How our sinful struggle with sleep became a righteous rest.
It’s 7:03 a.m., and I’ve already hit snooze twice. The alarm buzzes again. As I try to rouse myself after another late night, the day’s tasks pour into my mind. My wife and I gear up to make breakfast for four hungry kids—one’s hollering from behind a closed door to be let out.
We’ve been in diapers for six years running at our house. Needless to say, sleep is a luxury. So why is it that I often wake up feeling guilty for sleeping? Maybe you’re not like me, but so often I feel like I should have redeemed the time I spent passed out in bed. I could have read something, answered emails, or ticked something off the infinite house chore list.
Our culture would appear to be brimming with people who survive on coffee alone, squeezing every ounce of productivity from the day. Shouldn’t I be one of them? Less sleep is more, I tell my weary bones morning after morning.
This Easter I pray that’s going to begin to change. This Easter, may Christ change the way I sleep.
Sleeping in the Shadow of Death.
What has Easter to do with sleep? Cultures have recognized the close relationship between sleep and death for millennia. Nas quips in his track “NY State of Mind” (1994), “I never sleep, cuz sleep is the cousin of death.” Homer and Virgil call sleep (hypnos) and death (thanatos) brothers. In the Bible, sleep is often a euphemism for death. The psalmist writes, “Light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Ps. 13:3 ESV). Jesus himself made use of the poetic connection when speaking of Lazarus: “He went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up’… then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus …