Summary: There are times in life when it seems God no longer cares... but we continue to hope. We keep hope alive by remembering.
Title: Tossing and Turning
Text: Psalm 77
Thesis: There are times in life when it seems God no longer cares… but we continue to hope!
There is a quote from the book of Job which states, “When I go to bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ But the night drags on, and I toss until dawn.” Job 7:4
One of the songs I remember from the 1960s was sung by Bobby Lewis. It is the song of a young man, so in love, that he cannot sleep… here are some of the lyrics:
I couldn’t sleep at all last night, just thinking of you…
I kicked the blankets on the floor,
Turned my pillow upside down,
I never, never did that before,
Because I was tossin’ and turning,
Turning and tossin,
Toss and turn all night.
Jumped out of bed,
Turned on the light.
Pulled down the shade,
Went to the kitchen for a bite…
Rolled up the shade,
Turned off the light,
I jumped back into bed,
It was the middle of the night…
The clock downstairs was striking four,
Couldn’t get you off my mind,
I heard the milkman at the door,
Cause I was tossin’ and turning,
Turning and tossin’,
Toss and turn all night…
Dr. Peter Hauri, Director of the Mayo Clinic Insomnia Program, co-authored a book titled, No More Sleepless Nights. He says that treating insomnia deals with any problem with falling asleep or staying asleep. He cites many causes for insomnia… but love is not among them.
Among the culprits are drugs that stimulate or are disruptive including caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine; poor diet or sleep-disturbing dining habits; lack of exercise, poor sleep environment, not having a natural sleep-wake rhythm; stress; and illness.
The senior net web site states that more than 100 million Americans suffer from occasional insomnia. An estimated 30 to 60 million older women suffer from chronic sleeplessness. Half of the nation’s adults have taken sleep medication, and millions use sleeping pills frequently.
Those among us who suffer from insomnia understand what it feels like to toss and turn all night and may well be able to identify with the writer of our text today, who was himself, an insomniac.
We are not given a clue as to why he was so upset that he could not sleep… We only know that he is deeply troubled about something and he spends a sleepless night crying out to God for help.
This is what he did. He prayed out loud. He held nothing back.
I. When you are so upset that you can’t sleep, use your “outside voice.”
I cry out to God without holding anything back… all night long I pray with hands lifted toward heaven, pleading. Psalm 77:1-3
(I wonder how many times his wife told him to stop his caterwauling, turn over, and go to sleep?)
On June 20, 2007 a piece ran in the newsday.com local news about a Long Island, New York couple who was issued a summons by a Bayville noise enforcement officer, ordering them to keep their children quiet. It seems that after three years of screaming, and shouting, and causing an unreasonable nuisance, a neighbor began making audio recording of the children as supportive evidence to document their complaints. One person commented, “My mother taught me about inside and outside voices, but she never taught me anything about raising the dead voices.”
I don’t know if the prayer was using his “inside” voice, his “outside” voice, or his “raising the dead” voice. But, he confesses, “I cry out to God without holding anything back. Oh, that God would listen to me!” The text says:
• He cried out holding nothing back. 77:1
• He lifted his hands toward heaven. 77:2
• He moaned with longing for help. 77:3
Asaph is seriously upset and uses his tossing and turning time to make his case known to God. He seized the occasion to express his prayer with deep inner longing, outstretched hands, and with urgency in his voice.
In expressing his displeasure with his lot in life, he also lets God know that he blamed God for the fact that he couldn’t sleep.
II. God gets blamed for many things, including insomnia.
You don’t let me sleep. Psalm 77:4
The blame game has been played for a long time.
Women get blamed...
When God confronted Adam in the Garden of Eden about having eaten from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” Adam admitted, “Yes, I ate of it, but it was the woman you gave me who brought me the fruit.”
On June 13, 2007, Australian news.com.au reported, “A nine-year analysis of Australian media reports concluded that responsibility for childhood obesity is placed squarely on parents, and almost entirely on mothers.”