The City that Never Sleeps

“When I gave my heart over to know wisdom and to see the affairs which are done on the earth because of how in the day and in the night its eyes are also not seeing sleep, then I saw all the work of God which man is not able to discover, which is done under the sun. Man toils to seek it and will not find it out. Also, if a wise man claims to know, he is not able to find it.”

(Ecclesiastes 8:16-17)

They say that New York City is the City that never sleeps. I think that in the modern era there are more and more cities that can lay claim to that motto. It seems that across the western world, sleep is being downplayed and the eternally open eye is what is being celebrated. Sauron lives not just in the world of Middle Earth, but in Europe, America, and elsewhere. Yet, Solomon reminds us in Psalm 127:2 that one of God’s gifts to his beloved is sleep.

And so, Solomon seeks to discern all of the affairs that take place on this earth, day and night — during the activities where most are awake and at times when most are asleep, and his conclusion is that it is frustrating and impossible. It is not something that one can discern. He wonders at the sovereign work of God as it takes place across the earth and says that even if a man is wise, this he is not able to discover.

There is wisdom here that speaks to our modern and post-modern age. Within modernism comes the notion that the reason of man is able to discover and discern all things. Within post-modernity is the notion that each person creates their own definitions of reality. Both views are nothing short of a reflection of the arrogance of man. The more we discover about those things that take place “under the sun,” the more we are forced to recognize that those things that take place are infinitely more complex than what we thought at first. It must humble us and drive us to the recognition that it is God who is sovereign and infinite in knowledge, not man…no matter how hard we strive.

And so, while it is good to strive and to learn, we must be careful not to slip into the error of New York City and places such as these who promote a lifestyle that extends across both day and night. Remember, God gives to his beloved sleep…and God’s beloved are able to sleep because we trust that God holds all things in the palm of his hand.

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