Why do we sleep?
Of course, it’s a biological necessity. I’m not sure of the technical details, but it’s to recharge and refuel so that our muscles get time to heal and we can get back up to speed. If one tries to not sleep, it will not end well for oneself. Although death and taxes are often cited as the only inevitable things, sleep is also inevitable, even for an insomniac. Challenging this necessity, as most college students learn, does not end well. We lose our ability to be coherent and collapse, often in spasms of seemingly unprompted giggles (at least, this has been my college experience). Sleep is unavoidable, so thus, we sleep.
But as Christians, we may probe more deeply, because we know that someone designed our biological necessities. Although some mysteries of biology appear inscrutable, our Creator most likely did have a reason in mind in every choice he made in creation. Sleep is no exception.
So God must have had a reason. Why do we sleep, then? We were created in the image of God, and he never sleeps. Surely an omnipotent God could have designed a universe in which we do not sleep. Though that sounds like endless monotony to us, that is likely because of our memories of all-nighters. We didn’t have to be designed with this biological restriction. Just think of how unfair it is!
We miss seven hours (well, perhaps less for some) every day passed out, living out incomprehensible and confusing adventures solely in our minds which we will likely not even remember. Why? Isn’t that dreadfully inefficient? We’re called to glorify God with every moment of our lives, and yet an entire third is excused for drooling! Surely we could have cut down on those shocking large numbers of unreached people groups, evangelized our coworkers, worshipped God, and enjoyed his creation so much better if we were given our time back! I personally spend between 9 and 12 hours at work most of the week, and would very much benefit from another seven to spend with books and studying for school. As it is, I have to stop, park my head on my pillow, and just drift away. And if I don’t, the other hours are misery.
So, again, why sleep? Wouldn’t we do so much more without it? I think the answer to this question is deeply telling. Why would we spend much of our time doing nothing and recooperating? Because we are finite creatures.
Ultimately, sleep instructs us that we are just not that crucial. If we check out for seven hours a day the world keeps on turning. God is still awake, still ruling, still in control, and still accomplishing his purposes, while we contribute nothing. That’s not how we like to think of our lives. We like to think we’re crucial and that a whole lot depends on us. We like to obsess over productivity and worry about what we’ve contributed. And the Bible does occasionally urge in that direction – think of the call to preach the gospel in Romans. But it also encourages us to trust God that “it is finished,” and exhorts us to enter God’s Sabbath rest in Christ.
So why sleep? Because God never does. Because we can trust Him to accomplish his purposes and prepare us to do the good works he has prepared in advance for us to do. We need not panic about our lack of involvment, but instead prayerfully follow the path he has marked out for us. We ought to demonstrate our trust in the sovereignty of God by sleeping when we need to, confident that his purposes will not fail.