This Week in History – What Keeps You Up at Night?


isaac-newton PictureFor the record, people like Isaac Newton disgust me. I know I should be appreciative; after all, if Newton hadn’t invented gravity, we’d be floating around bumping our heads into ceiling fans. But I take issue with the fact he was such a brilliant mathematician—and I have trouble counting along with Big Bird.

Here’s the story. The mathematician Johann Bernoulli addressed a letter to all the mathematicians in Europe and challenged them to solve two problems. The problems were so challenging he gave this distinguished group of mathematical eggheads six months to find the answer. Newton got his copy of the letter in the mail on January 29, 1697 and solved the problem that night—before he went to bed. Granted, he stayed up until 4:00 a.m., but he did it in one night. (I bet the other math nerds were cheesed.)

file_576585_good-will-hunting-math-problem-solved-03182013-133945Newton reminds me of Will Hunting, the Matt Damon character in Good Will Hunting. He was a janitor at MIT who anonymously solved an algebraic problem none of the students could. Newton was like that—except without all the cussing.

alarm-clockWouldn’t it be nice to solve your hardest problems before you went to bed at night?

All sorts of problems can keep us up at night: relationships, health, finances. King David understood.

“I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears” (Ps. 6:6).

I want to do what David did. I don’t ignore my problems. I don’t gloss over them with a coat of ungrounded optimism. I don’t crowd them out by filling my mind with TV, magazines, or games. I want to do what David did. He prayed.

“The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (v. 9).

We have no indication David’s problems immediately disappeared like problems do at the end of a sitcom. But his prayer was a recognition that God was keenly aware of the problems—and God was with Him.

  • Want to know how I handle my math problems? I married an accountant; she is a whiz with numbers.
  • Want to know how I handle life’s problems? I talk to and walk with the Lord of life.

And that helps me sleep at night.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

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