Sleep well

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

A headline in The New York Times caught my eye: "Record Sales of Sleeping Pills Are Causing Worries" (Feb. 7).

The article reports that large numbers of Americans are taking sleeping pills at a rate 60 percent higher than in the year 2000. According to the article, 42 million sleeping pill prescriptions were filled last year. My heart protests; these people deserve rest.

I felt similarly when my young daughter experienced a long stretch of sleeplessness. She was only 8 years old, and it started after a break-in when my husband was away and she and I were home alone in bed. Although it was disturbing and frightening, there was no damage, and just a couple of small items were grabbed from the mantle as the intruders ran for the back door.

Around this same time, however, in the city where we lived, a couple of girls who were my daughter's age had been kidnapped and killed. The city and schools were on high alert. We were living in another country, and all my daughter could think of was her home in America, and how much she wanted to return.

We had taught her to trust God and to turn in prayer to Him for all her needs. Still, she was unsettled, and, as nights became weeks, so was I. I spent hours tucking her in at night, assuring her of God's love and care for her, praying with her, and singing hymns to calm her. But night after night, she would come downstairs, crying, asking to be tucked in again.

I often told her that she was not alone, and that she could feel God's love, no matter where she was, even if her father and I weren't with her. I longed to see her happy and peaceful.

One day, after spending some time praying about this, I realized that it wasn't enough to merely persuade her of these spiritual facts. I had to know that she knew directly of her peace and rest with God. Surely, I was doing my best to comfort her, but ultimately, I had to turn this over to God, her Father-Mother, and trust my daughter's own relation with divine, ever-present Love.

I knew that the comforting Christ, what Mary Baker Eddy described as "the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness," would touch her in the way most helpful and meaningful to her ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 332). After all, Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). I had to stop worrying and instead wholeheartedly trust the presence of the Christ, which surrounds us all. I asked God to help me do this.

Not long after that prayer, one night before bedtime, my daughter came to me, all ready for bed with a big smile and her Bible open in her hands. She wanted to show me something, and she was very excited. "Here, Mummy," she said, "Look what I found in the Bible." And there, on that tear-stained, wrinkled page, she pointed to this verse: "When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet" (Prov. 3:24). She read it aloud like a proclamation straight from God. It was. And her sleep was sweet. From that evening on, she never had another restless night.

This kind of God-given peace is here, for everyone, because the Christ is companioning each one of us, day and night. All of God's sons and daughters deserve this uninterrupted rest.

When I sit in darkness,
the Lord shall be
a light unto me.
Micah 7:8

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