Connections 02.27.2022: The Weight of Sleep

Luke 9:28-43a

Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. (Luke 9:32)

I’m tired. Are you tired?

When I read Luke 9 in preparation for writing this post, I expected to be amazed again by the dazzling transfiguration of Jesus and surprised again by the appearance of Moses and Elijah. I expected to share the apostles’ instinct to set up camp there on the mountaintop, to experience again that ever-so-human urge to hold on to the holy.

But I’m so tired. Today, this month, this year, this pandemic, this seemingly endless season of disunity and distraction, I can relate to the friends of Jesus gathered there on the mountain. We are all so tired. When Luke says they were “weighed down with sleep,” I know I’m not alone in understanding, deep in my core, how very heavy such fatigue can be.

Jesus had called the first disciples after they’d spent a long fruitless night fishing (Luke 5:1-11). Since then they’d seen him heal, teach, face religious conflicts, preach, heal some more, raise the dead, forgive sins, tell stories, calm a storm, heal even more, raise the dead again, and feed five thousand people. All this happens in four short chapters of Luke’s gospel, and the disciples had followed Jesus through it all, from their boats to this mountain. They’d been with him for every person in pain, every grieving family member, every angry Pharisee, every crash of the waves, every hungry picnicker. No wonder they were tired.

And it’s no wonder we are tired too. It’s one thing to be tired of a situation, in the sense of being “fed up” with something that is bothersome. It’s another to be “weighed down” with effort that feels futile or with constant worry over situations that are beyond our control. Even when we trust the One we follow, we may feel “weighed down” with the sheer fatigue of holding on to the hope that God will finally make things right. That God will finally heal us. Teach us. Feed us. And give us life again.

I relate to the exhausted disciples, and I am also inspired by them. As utterly tired as they were, as heavily as their fatigue weighed on them, they were able to witness the stunning transformation of Jesus “since they had stayed awake.” Fatigue is not the enemy, and we don’t always have to fight it; after all, our God has designated Sabbath rest as holy. But if my tiredness—both my fed-up-ness and my heavy fatigue—overcomes me, and lulls me to fall into a numbing sleep, what wonders might I miss?


  • What are you tired of? What are the situations in your life, and in the world around you, that are weighing heavily on you? How do you experience the weight of that fatigue? Do you feel it in your body as a physical sensation? Is it affecting your mental or spiritual wellness? Is it affecting your relationships? Is it affecting your ability to follow Christ in his way?
  • Are you tempted to “sleep” through life in ways that may be more numbing than restful?
  • Think about times when you have been surprised by God’s amazing acts, especially in situations when the weight of the world felt most exhausting. How has God’s presence been a “wake-up call” at a time when you could barely keep your head up? Where might you see God’s glory at work today, “since you have stayed awake”?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


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  1. Glenda Gerred Watts says

    In the midst of your fatigue, you continue to amaze and inspire me! Keep on.