Wednesday, March 20, 2013


When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
Job 7:4

Job's anguish is compounded by sleepless nights. The agony of his physical suffering stretches through every day and continues through countless hours of tossing and turning through each night. His is a weary soul. The relentless pain of no relief wears on him with a constant driving friction.

Having had my own bouts with a sleep disorder, I empathize with Job's fears. Nothing matches the mental agony that accompanies the dread of another night's sleeplessness. Bed and pillows become instruments of torture. Blankets become strangling restraints. And the minutes tick by like hours as sleeplessness slows time to a painful and excruciating crawl. And all the mind can dwell on is the lack of rest. Sleep is the easiest and most natural of activities... and it will not come. The misery compounds each night that this pattern continues. Pretty soon the capacity to function at all slips away. Days and nights morph into a gray, drowsy, zombie haze.

Depression is inevitable as the body wears down in sleeplessness. That explains a great deal of Job's negative perspective in his lament. He is innocent of the charges that Eliphaz has accused him of doing. But his mind is not at its sharpest defense. In the end, his best argument is to complain about his bitter circumstances and insist upon his blamelessness. The complaining may be the insomnia talking. The blamelessness is his integrity holding out some limited hope despite his circumstances.

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