On one occasion when Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus “fell asleep. Then a fierce windstorm came down on the lake; they were being swamped and were in danger. They came and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to die!’” (Luke 8:23-24a; see also Matt. 8:24-25; Mark 4:37-38).
In each of these Gospel accounts, the fear of the disciples contrasts sharply with the calmness Jesus exhibited as He slept. In fact, the disciples’ panic reminds us of the turbulent storm that threatened the boat, and Jesus’ calm brings to mind the absolute serenity the Lord initiated when He “got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves” (Luke 8:24b).
It is both significant and instructive that Jesus slept even as a powerful storm unleashed its fury on the boat that held Him and His disciples. Of course, we must be careful not to be simplistic in our approach to the challenges that life throws at us. Yet at the same time, we need to understand that faith in God is the antidote to fear and panic (see v. 25). Moreover, peaceful sleep and faith are quite compatible. Faith here doesn’t just mean exercising faith in God during a crisis, but living a lifestyle of faith. Consider the following Bible passages.
- David declared, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, LORD, make me live in safety” (Ps. 4:8).
- Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, declared to his son, “Maintain your competence and discretion. My son, don’t lose sight of them. They will be life for you, and adornment for your neck. Then you will go safely on you way; your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant. Don’t fear sudden danger or the ruin of the wicked when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare” (Prov. 3:21-26). We see here that faith in God is expressed, not just verbally, but also in a lifestyle of righteous actions and sterling integrity.
- Exercising humility and being a faithful steward of time, abilities, and opportunities is very consistent with exercising faith in the Lord (see Deut. 8:11-20, esp. v. 18). Ecclesiastes 5:12 declares, “The sleep of the worker is sweet.”
- While productivity and hard work are commended in Scripture (see Prov. 6:6-11), workalcoholism is not: “Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the LORD watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. In vain you get up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food—yes, He gives sleep to the one He loves” (Ps. 127:1-2). A lifestyle of faith in God resists an obsession with the cares of this world (see Matt. 6:19-34; Luke 12:16-21; 1 John 2:15-17). Peaceful sleep is much more likely if we own our possessions and don’t allow our possessions to own us!
In summary, we can say that Jesus was able to sleep in the boat, and we who exercise faith in Him and His provision can sleep securely as well, because God the Father never sleeps: God “will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep” (Ps. 121:3-4). To what extent does your faith in God aid you in getting peaceful sleep?