Sleep and the Bible

An increasing medical concern is insomnia.  Eric J. Olson, M.D. states, “Lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus…Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.”   Insomnia has also been linked to increased risk of stroke, asthma attacks, seizures, sensitivity to pain, inflammation and obesity.

While patients can adjust their environment such as eliminating caffeine in the late afternoon, darkening their bedrooms, and having a comfortable bed; often the problem is emotional. Worry, relationship issues, unresolved anger, financial problems are just a few of the issues that can keep us awake at night. This is where the therapy of the Bible can be so helpful. 

Scripture effectively addresses these emotional issues in a way that can bring calm, rest and resolution. The following passages can be helpful:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:26-27)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3)

“He gives His beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)

Some, who have long-term or more persistent insomnia, may need individualized therapy – which has proven to be very effective in helping people solve their insomnia problem. In addition, many are able to stop talking sleep medication. 

Whether you have a major or minor sleep problem, it can seriously affect your health and happiness. Don’t “just accept it.” Get the help you need. 

 

 

James S. Danner is Pastor of Grace Community Church (GCCValdosta.org) and Counselor with Grace Counseling (GraceValdosta.com)

Repairing Relationships

One of the realities of life is that we are all flawed. The Bible tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Because we all have faults; our relationships can suffer damage – sometimes even major injury. How can we repair a relationship which is damaged due to sin and failure?

When we fail a friend or our spouse, we need to apologize. This involves more than the perfunctory, “I’m sorry.” To effectively apologize, we need to admit that what we did was wrong. It is amazing that this is a step many never take. I have talked to scores of people who tell me, “my spouse has never admitted that he/she was wrong.” It is hard to forgive someone who thinks they did no wrong – so admit it. Embrace it. Don’t make excuses or blame the other person. Too many people say, “Yes, I was wrong…. but I would never have done this if you hadn’t done that.” That can make matters worse. “If I admit that I was wrong, they may never let it go.” No, it is your stubborn refusal to admit your transgression that makes it almost impossible for them to “let it go.”

Another step when you have wronged someone is to empathize. “It must have felt terrible when I forgot our anniversary. It must have seemed like it was not important to me. I’m so sorry!” When we interact this way, we are owning our actions and how we hurt our loved one. 

It is also good to share your plan for change. “I know I forget things – and I never want to hurt you again like this. So I am going to set a reminder on my phone, highlight my calendar a month ahead and do anything else I can never to do this to you again.” Having a plan and communicating this shows that your apology was not mere words. You take what you did seriously and you are committed to changing.

Finally, it is important to give people time. Questions such as “when will you get over this?” are inappropriate. Honoring and loving someone requires allowing them time to heal. Refusing to do so can reinjure them or delay their healing.

We have all hurt others and we have all been hurt. Since we all need forgiveness, we should be willing to forgive others. In addition, we should look to God who offers “no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” (Romans 8:1)

 

James S. Danner is pastor of Grace Community Church (www.GCCValdosta.org) and counselor with Grace Counseling (www.GraceValdosta.com)

Easter and Marriage

Does the Easter story tell us something about marriage? Well, Easter is about Resurrection. On Good Friday, Christ died to pay for our sins and on Sunday – on that first Easter – He rose from the dead.  Easter is about life after death and many who are reading this right now may be experiencing a kind of death in their marriages. It seems that love is dead. Understanding and kindness are dead.  There is no hope. And along with this death is a deep pain and sadness. If this describes your marriage, please know that you are not alone. Many in our community – and in our country – are experiencing the same thing. It may seem dark and hopeless, but it is possible to have a resurrection!

One of the messages we can glean from Easter is that when things seem very dark and dead – it does not mean that it is over. I like what Amy Carroll said, "He (God) is still in the business of bringing dead things to life." You may say, “You don’t know my situation. It is hopeless.” No, I don’t know your situation…but I have known many couples in very dismal, seemingly hopeless marriages, who through prayer and work not only survived, but ultimately thrived in marriage. How can this be?

As with the resurrection, we must look to the power of God. I mentioned prayer and that is important. We must ask His help – we cannot do this alone. But looking to God also involves also looking to what His Word says and, by His grace, following it. God loves us and has told us that His Word is “profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16)

One of the important Biblical steps we should take when dealing with a struggling marriage is to choose to believe things can get better. When the resurrected Jesus spoke with doubting Thomas He said, “Stop doubting and believe." (John 20:27) I believe He would say the same thing to us.

Praying, believing, and following His blueprint for marriage are good first steps to experiencing a resurrection. Happy Easter to you and your family!

James S. Danner is pastor of Grace Community Church (www.GCCValdosta.org) and counselor with Grace Counseling (www.GraceValdosta.com)

Better than Life

One of the most astonishing things that is conveyed in the Bible about God’s love is that it is better than life. Think about that: the experience of God’s love is better than life itself. In old movies, the robber would threaten with these words, “Your money or your life.” Of course, the victim would hand over his or her money because nothing is more valuable than life. Scripture tells us that God’s love is better than life itself. 

Many times when I tell people about God’s love, I get the impression that they view it as something nice but powerless. The fact is that – if we believe the Bible – the experience of God’s love is the only thing that can truly change us from the inside out. In Ephesians 3 the Apostle Paul writes about his prayer for the believers in Ephesus. He says that he prays that they would “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19). 

Ponder that. He prays, not for their health or holiness, but that they would grasp God’s great love for them! This is his prayer: that they experience God’s love. Then he states that if they know the depths of God’s love they will be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). In other words,  God’s love will make them more like Jesus.  What does that look like? Love. Love for God and love for people. 1 John 4:19 tells us that “we love because He first loved us.” The power and motivation for loving others comes directly from experiencing God’s love.

Jim Danner is pastor of Grace Community Church in Valdosta (GCCValdosta.org)