Calm nights – and your right to rest
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
What would horror and suspense movie directors do without night scenes? In cinematic terms – and all too often in real life – night is when "things go bump." Also, for some people it's when anxieties well up and sleep flees. When loneliness seems magnified, unresolved conflicts loom large, and people feel vulnerable to illness. The US National Library of Medicine reports that "as many as 25 percent of Americans report occasional sleeping problems, and insomnia is a chronic problem for about 10 percent of people."
Some people who suffer from insomnia turn to a spectrum of dietary and other approaches to sleep better. Pharmaceutical companies advertise over-the-counter and prescription drugs that suspend the mental and emotional troubles that invade rest, but the user exchanges a troubled human consciousness for a drug-controlled one. And drugs bring other trade-offs, including harmful side effects and the potential for addiction.
Restlessness does not have to rule the night, though. And there is a better way to find real rest than material therapies can provide – a safer and far more effective therapeutic one that actually heals rather than suspends what's bothering you. It's what Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy described as "the Science of the Bible." She found this Science embedded in the life and works of Christ Jesus, who "demonstrated for all time and peoples the supremacy of good over evil, and the superiority of Spirit over matter" ("Retrospection and Introspection," pp. 27, 26).
The Science of the Bible enabled Jesus to sleep on a boat during a raging storm, while others were prisoners to anxiety. And it allowed him to be alert and undiminished as a healer after staying up all night in prayer.
Jesus' resources in life and healing were divine laws, or Mind Science – the law of one supreme and infinitely good God ("The Lord our God is one Lord"); the law of unlimited and uninterrupted reflection ("Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind"); and the law of spiritual love ("Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"). Those phrases all lie within Jesus' answer to the question "Which is the first commandment of all?" (Mark 12:28–31). And within obedience to spiritual laws, answers can be found to whatever troubles our hearts and minds.
Many causes of sleeplessness – concerns about work and finances; painful memories; turmoil over child-raising, relationships, or sexual issues; and fears about health – are never really resolved by drugs or other human modes of healthcare. Such troubles are resolved and rest gained by applying divine law through prayer.
The "one Lord" is right there to help in restless moments. Grasping in some measure the Science of Mind, the Psalmist wrote, "Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life" (Ps. 42:8). The messages received in praying with psalms and hymns carry the force of a God-given command. They can shut down those repeating grim or down-pulling mental movie scenes. They take the rest-seeker out of the illusory world of fear and separation from good, and into God's always calm presence.
Some people believe that nighttime belongs to the darker counterforces of evil. Or, that if God is there in the night, He's not in full control of what goes on. But the Science of the Bible shows God to be eternal and omnipresent, wherever you may be in the human sense of time/space. The infinite Spirit is unopposed by evil, either in the form of supposed spirits or some amorphous force. As the Psalmist perceived, night is no obstacle to spiritual light: "If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me" (Ps. 139:11). Like God's song, this light brings peace instead of more tossing and turning.
God's night song dissolves vulnerable, matter-based thoughts and reveals the reality and security of spiritual existence. That's where Jesus rested, and it's where each one of us can rest today and tonight.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.