Finally, on January 8, 1964, seventeen-year-old Randy Gardner did something he hadn’t done for eleven days and twenty-five minutes: he nodded off to sleep. He wanted to beat the Guinness Book World Record for how long a human could stay awake. By drinking soft drinks and hitting the basketball court and bowling alley, Gardner rebuffed sleep for a week and a half. Before finally collapsing, his sense of taste, smell, and hearing went haywire. Decades later, Gardner suffered from severe bouts of insomnia. He set the record but also confirmed the obvious: sleep is essential.
Many of us struggle to get a decent night’s rest. Unlike Gardner who deprived himself intentionally, we might suffer sleeplessness for a number of reasons—including a mountain of anxieties: the fear of all we need to accomplish, the dread of others’ expectations, the distress of living at a frantic pace. Sometimes it’s hard for us to turn off the fear and relax.
The psalmist tells us that “unless the
God, I’m so anxious. I churn inside. Would You help me trust You with my night, with my day, with my life?
Psalm 127:1–2 states that the planning and activity of humanity is pointless without the involvement of the Lord. But what does it mean that “the builders labor in vain” and “the guards stand watch in vain”? Vain means “purposelessness” or “futility.” It’s not that the house doesn’t get built or the city isn’t being watched. It means that building the house and protecting the city are under the control of the Lord. Despite our best efforts, it’s the Lord who determines the outcome. Our labors are in vain if we think we are the ultimate determiners of what happens in our lives.