Of all the divine thoughts recorded in the pages of sacred writ, of all the promises God provides to humanity, perhaps none is more moving, none more blessed, none more needful than this: He gives his beloved sleep.
What would we give to those we love if we had all the power of God Almighty, if we could dispense any gift from his endless storehouse? We would give the courage of a hero, the voice of an angel, the wealth of a king, the strength of a champion. God makes no such promises. Rather, the promise God makes is this: He gives his beloved sleep.
What do we bestow upon the ones with whom we share our lives? We bestow many blessings but also many sorrows. We give with one hand and take with the other. We speak blessings and curses, we make memories that are wonderful and memories that are hurtful. We give both smiles that satisfy and tears that aggrieve. But the God who withholds no good thing from the ones he loves gives them sleep.
“Sleep well, my love” we sometimes say, though we know we have no power to soothe a heart that is troubled, a mind that is roiled, a body that is aching. “Sleep well, my love,” we whisper, though we know that the dreams may still come, the night may still be long and dreadful. Yet no nightmare may disturb and no pain endure when God gives his beloved sleep.
This world is marked by noise, this earth with reasons to moan, to weep, to wail. Our days are attended by many stresses, many strains, many sore anxieties. Though we crave rest and need it so very badly, too often it simply will not come. But always we can rest on this sweet promise: God gives his beloved sleep.
As the years pass by, as the body weakens and faith deepens, we come to embrace God’s promises, for we know we need them, we know that to be without the Word is to be without hope. As our age increases, so does our trust and our dependence so that the faith of a tired old man is the faith of a fresh-faced young child—faith in the God who gives his beloved sleep.
And at the end of our days on earth, when we have come to the close of our journey and drawn our final breath, our friends will gather to bid a fond farewell. And on that day, may one of them say, by faith, “Dry your eyes and think on the precious promise he counted so dear. Weep no more, for God has given his beloved sleep.”
Inspired by The Sleep by Elizabeth Barrett Browning