Can’t Sleep? I’ll Chew the Cud!
Posted by April 27, 2017on
A recent bout of sleeplessness led to a thought that consoled me. A cow’s digestive system helped me realize how to profitably fill time before I fall asleep.
Who has not experienced at least one sleepless night? I can certainly say I have had a few over my lifetime. And which one of us has not heard of at least one remedy for this issue? If you search “sleep remedies” on Google, you will get hundreds of ideas! We are all different, and there’s probably no solution that will work for everyone.
But recently my father experienced a serious period of sleeplessness, and I gave a lot of thought to the problem.
Then when I had a sleepless period myself, I thought more about this phenomenon. A recent sermon I heard came to mind, and I began “taking it apart” and “putting it back together” to see how it applied to this problem. As I continued to meditate on it, a thought came into my mind.
An “aha!” moment
One of the traits of clean mammals is that they chew the cud (Leviticus 11:3). We had cattle when I was young, and I knew that the cows would lie in the pasture chewing all afternoon—but I didn’t fully realize why until I did more research.
Did you know a cow has four stomachs? According to America’s Dairyland, the grass (or whatever else they eat) lands in the first stomach chamber where it’s partially digested, separating liquids and solids. In the second chamber, the grass is softened and then sent back to the mouth to be chewed again for further digestion. Only afterward, it is sent to the other chambers.
The process is referred to as rumination, and it’s no coincidence that one of the definitions of ruminate is to think about something repeatedly. When we take in a message, consider it and then think about it again, it is very similar to the process of “chewing the cud.”
Okay, so I guess that is what I was doing that night! I was chewing the cud when I remembered the message and redigested it in order to try to break it down and get more out of it. The first time I heard the sermon, my spiritual body received only part of the benefits (just like a cow only receives partial nutritional benefits when the food enters the first chamber). When I reviewed the message in my mind, I was able to think about how those aspects applied to me—somewhat similar to how a cow’s second, third and fourth stomachs further process food into nutrition for the body (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Cows and other mammals “chew the cud” in order to extract more of their food’s nutrients. Similarly, we can “chew the cud” spiritually to take in more of the spiritual nutrients of the sermons we hear every week.
I decided to use this type of meditation when I can’t get to sleep. It seems that David may have done this: “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6).
So, now when I first lie down in bed, rather than trying to “clear my mind” or fretting about falling asleep, I try to think about positive spiritual things (Philippians 4:8).
After, or sometimes during, this spiritual meditation, I just might fall asleep. After all, one of the blessings for obedience is: “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear” (Leviticus 26:6, New Living Translation). But even if I don’t fall asleep right away, I’ve passed the time profitably and have peace of mind.
To learn more about the importance of sleep, read “Health Science and the Bible.”