While We Sleep: God’s Kingdom and Better Days Ahead

Inspiration-Lessons of Hope for South Sudan

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A six-month-old girl sleeps in Bentiu's UN protection site, 2015 (UNICEF/McKeever)A six-month-old girl sleeps in Bentiu's UN protection site, 2015 (UNICEF/McKeever)

[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] Sometimes bad things happen while we sleep. The night is a time when men like to drink and when soldiers like to fight. It is a time when thieves like to go looting and when sicknesses creep up on the elderly and the young. The night can bring insecurity and fear.

Other times, however, the night brings hope that tomorrow will be a better day than today. Do you ever lie in bed thinking about how tomorrow could be different? Do you close your eyes and dream about waking up in a different world?

Jesus says that His kingdom is growing while we sleep. “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how” (Mark 4:26-27).

God’s kingdom is growing. At first we cannot see it because the seeds are under the earth. Our vision is limited. Yet slowly, seeds produce stalks that come up out of the ground, then the head, then the full grain. When the grain is ripe, it is ready to be harvested (Mark 4:28-29).

The harvest is when God will come to help us and to bring peace to the whole world. He will burn up all of the weapons and all of the cruelty and all of the wickedness of the world. Then He will gather his children into his arms forever.

When will this harvest be? We do not know. But we have Jesus with us, who is the first fruit of this harvest, a foretaste of the things to come (1 Cor. 15:23). Like a seed, Jesus was buried in the earth, then He rose and came alive. He is the grain that nourishes us. He is the bread of eternal life. Jesus puts His right hand on our shoulder and says, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever” (Revelation 1:17-18).

While you sleep, therefore, you can be sure that God is preparing good things. You can dream, but God will dream bigger. You can plan, but God will plan better. So close your eyes, and think about the good things that you have experienced in your life. Now, God is preparing more good things, while we rest, and even while we sleep. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Remember this every time you lie down and every time you get up. Jesus will give you rest. He is working in ways that we cannot imagine. His kingdom is growing from a small seed to a big harvest. It will be beautiful and it will be good, and we are invited to join Him.

Lessons of Hope for South Sudan, #2. Read the previous article in this series here.

The contributor is a seminarian, and has worked with Christians in South Sudan for several years.


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