At about 5 this morning, I awoke from my second troubling dream of the night. A vision of being trapped inside an unfurnished house with someone who often manages to be close to me because of our similar interests but rarely deigns to acknowledge my presence, much less act with any friendliness left me rather unhappy, and as I looked at my cell phone, which doubles as a clock, I realized that at that point even if I managed to get myself to sleep again it would be bad sleep and I would not want to wake up any more an hour or an hour and a half later, at best, when it was time to get up and get ready for work. And, as I told those colleagues of mine who asked me why I showed up a lot earlier than I usually did, “I couldn’t sleep, so I figured I might as well work.” Everyone who asked me about why I was early seemed satisfied with my response, even if I had been among the last people there last night, and I got to my usual reporting tasks, and the special reports that I was asked to do as well.
There were two intriguing consequences of my arriving at work early in the circumstances of a terrible night’s sleep. For one, about half an hour to forty-five minutes after I arrived at work, one of my colleagues arrived, and when I answered her query as to why I was at work so early, she replied that the exact same thing had happened to her. She had been troubled in her sleep, had woken up about the same time, and had made the precise same decision on the same grounds that I did, getting ready for work earlier because at that point it was pointless to sleep because the night was not going to be made any better by another hour of shallow napping. And so I found that it was a pleasure to be able to encourage someone else, even over something like not sleeping well . The second consequence of my arriving early, despite my bad sleep, was the fact that I received some praise from a few of the people who I send reports to that they were glad to have my reports earlier than usual. As I enjoy hearing praise for a job well done in terms of quality and time, it was good to note the positive effects of my insomnia, as it would usually be my habit to lament my poor sleep.
As I was talking to my coworker, we both reminisced on the fact that the year is almost over, and neither of us are really sure how it went by so quickly. Time flies by far faster than we are able to make productive use of it, productive not merely in an economic sense, but in the sense of fulfilling our own dreams for our lives, dreams which all too often depend on other people or on situations that drag on interminably, without end. When my neighbor at work was telling me about a reference to the 90’s that her father got wrong, I was reminded of something that had happened when I was talking about the road to baptism with some of the young people at the teen and young adult Bible Study on Sabbath, where I commented that I had went to Passover as a guest for the first time in 1995, and one of the young women there exclaimed that she was born in 1995, thinking it to be ancient history. I hate feeling old, and that my life has been nothing more than years of the locust .
Yet that memory of this weekend reminded me of the song that we had sung in the teen and young adult choir, since this is how my mind works, in complex and layered chains of memory and association and narrative, and so when I had a bit of time among the hustle and bustle of my day, I turned in my Bible to the passage quoted in the song “This Is My Word ,” and this is what the passage read in Isaiah 55:6-13: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are My ways your ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.””
I took that verse as a message of peace, one that was highly applicable to both my terrible night of sleep last night, and the fact that it clearly served to good purpose in the morning. I am frequently and greatly distressed at the amount of torment and suffering that goes on in life, not only my own but that of other people whose lives intersect in some fashion with my own. Yet while our own errant folly is responsible for a good deal of our suffering and difficulties, so too much of what we suffer refines us and makes us more compassionate and understanding to others. It is not only the here and now that we must be concerned about, but the hereafter as well. I do not want any of my suffering to be wasted, and I want all of it to be of use in developing or refining character, building up my reserves of compassion and gentleness to others, providing opportunities for developing wisdom and discernment, especially in those areas where I am not naturally particularly wise, so that no unnecessary suffering is faced. It is rare that one can see purpose in one’s suffering so quickly, that before I had been awake three hours I had been able to use my night of troubled sleep as a comfort and encouragement to a neighbor with the same struggle. If only it was so easy to see purpose and meaning in all that we go through, for then it might not be hard to see the light even in the dark night of the soul, to see the buds of spring even under the bitter snows of a long December as time goes racing by. Yet we must take such moments as we find them, and make the most of them that our lives may be a blessing to others, even if we do not always feel blessed ourselves.
 Truth be told, though, I seldom sleep well, and it is a subject of frequent vexation on my part. See, for example:
 See, for example: