One of the many promises of God is that He will keep in perfect peace those who keep their minds steadfast on Him (Isaiah 26:3). One way I have measured the peace in my life has been by how well I sleep. Indeed, the Bible makes a lot of connections between rest, peace, and sleep. There are many reasons why we have difficulty sleeping and finding rest. From worry and anxiety to poor environments, and chemical imbalances the list sometimes seems never-ending.

As I was reading Acts today I read about James, the brother of John, being put to the sword (Acts 12:2). I thought, when I read that, how sad it was that the death of James was covered in one short sentence. The focus though, of this chapter of Acts, really wasn’t on the death of James. After all, sad as it might be, James went home to be with the Lord. How can we be sad about that? Reading the story of Peter, though, here in Acts, and of Peter’s great faith, is what I think the twelfth chapter of Acts is all about.

After Herod saw how pleased the Jews were by James’ death he put Peter into prison with the intention of eventually executing him as well (Acts 12:3). While the text doesn’t explicitly say that Herod intended to execute Peter, I think it’s a safe assumption that was Herod’s desire. Much like the single line that tells us of James’ death, we only have a single line of text that brings our attention to Peter’s great faith.

Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him.

Acts 12:8 (NIV)

What stands out in this verse is the fact that Peter had taken off his outer garment and sandals before going to sleep. I suppose I should mention he was sleeping in chains between two armed guards. It took me some time, when I was in the military, to get used to sleeping in a barracks full of other people, and I wasn’t in danger of being executed, nor just recently had a close friend suffer execution. Peter though, is not only able to go to sleep, and presumably sleep well, while chained to two guards, but needed to be prodded awake by the angel sent to free him; “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists” (Acts 12:7 NIV).

Imagine Peter, brought into this cell by his guards, bound in chains between two guards, comfortably taking off his sandals and outer garments and going to sleep between them. I can only say that Peter had to have had great faith in God to be able to rest so comfortably in a situation that was anything but comfortable.

I’m reminded of two other people the Bible tells us about who was sleeping in trying circumstances. When Jesus and the disciples were headed off to the region of the Gadarenes, they encounter a violent storm that engulfed their boat and Jesus is there, sleeping on a cushion (Matthew 8:23-24, Mark 4:38). The boat was being swamped with water and the disciples were terrified so they woke Jesus up. Jesus “said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NIV) I can say, from what I’ve read here in Acts today, that Peter now had a greater amount of faith than he did that day on the boat.

The other person that comes to mind who was sleeping, on a boat, was Jonah. The case of Jonah though is different. Jonah wasn’t in God’s will. We know Jonah was, in fact, running away from God and the mission God had sent him on. How then, was Jonah able to sleep during a storm sent by God? There are a couple of reasons that come to mind. First, we know Jonah wanted to die. We know Jonah wanted to die because he said so, “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:3 NIV). We can also surmise, from his willingness to be thrown into the sea, to calm the storm, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you” (Jonah 1:12 NIV). The second reason I believe Jonah was able to sleep so well is the comfort of sin.

Matthew Henry calls it, “carnal security”, as has this to say about it.

Sin is of a stupifying nature, and we are concerned to take heed lest at any time our hearts be hardened by the deceitfulness of it. It is the policy of Satan, when by his temptations he has drawn men from God and their duty, to rock them asleep in carnal security, that they may not be sensible of their misery and danger.

Matthew Henry Complete Bible Commentary

We know Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Furthermore, we know evil can mimic those things that are good. Evidenced by the magicians in Exodus who were able to “duplicate” miracles (Exodus 7:11,22, 8:7). Therefore, a night of sound sleep is no big feat.

There’s another indicator here in the twelfth chapter of Acts that tells me about Peter’s great faith, and it’s something we need to pay attention to.

Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”

Acts 12:11 (NIV)

I’m reminded of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to bow down and worship the statue of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar constructed. Anyone who wouldn’t worship the statue was to be put to death. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the statue and had this to say:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV)

Peter had some doubt as to whether or not He’d be delivered from Herod. Perhaps this is why he thought he saw a vision when the angel woke him up and took him out of the cell. However, Peter still believed that God was able and was comfortable enough in his faith to cozy up and go to sleep chained between two guards.

My brothers and sisters, this cry, “even if He does not” is not the exclamation of doubt and fear the Enemy is telling you it is. Even the Lord Jesus, on the night before He was imprisoned, and executed, said to the Lord, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done” (Luke 22:42 CEB). Did Jesus want to suffer? No, He did not. Did He want the Father’s will to be done? Yes, of course, He did. Take heart then, and do not be discouraged, for the Lord will deliver you from whatever wiles of the Enemy you find yourself in. But, even if He does not, remember Job, who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15 NIV).

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.