It feels as though everyone in the world is tired. We've experienced a pandemic, political strife, and protests on top of the pressures that already existed from school, work, and family needs. Stress seems to be the one thing that unites us all. But is that the way it's supposed to be?
For most, rest is a distant dream–something we want but never achieve because of the many things that keep us from it.
- Have too much on your plate
- Struggle to let others help you
- Be scared to stop and be alone
- Believe the world will crumble if you don't hold it up
- Feel guilty any time you rest
The list could go on. No matter what the underlying reason is, we all struggle to rest even though we need it. Studies show that driving when you have been awake for too long is akin to driving while intoxicated. Our bodies do not function when we are under-rested, and neither do our hearts.
The book of Hebrews warns that failing to rest can lead to disobedience to God. The author of Hebrews states this clearly in Hebrews 4:9–11 when he writes, "Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God's people. For the person who has entered his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from his. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience." The Ten Commandments ordered God's people to rest. For one day every week, the ancient Israelites did not work. They did not cook, clean, or tend the fields. They stopped. They rested. God took this command so seriously that the punishment for failing to observe the Sabbath was death (Exodus 31:15). Why would God care so much about rest?
- Rest reminds us that God is in control. The lie so many of us believe is that our work is necessary in order for good to be done in our communities, families, and in ourselves. The truth is that every good work is done only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Rest is a form of obedience. When we fail to rest, we fail to take God's commands seriously. Resting is a necessary part of being a follower of Jesus because God tells us it is.
- Rest is good for us. God invites us to rest not as an extra burden, but to offer us something refreshing. Psalm 23:1–2 reminds us, "The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters." God is not asking for you to work tirelessly for His acceptance. He is pleased with you when you find rest in His presence.
- Rest shows that we are set apart from the world. While society tells you to work harder, God reminds us to rest better. Choosing to stop working in order to rest is choosing to build up God's kingdom and not your own.
- Rest reflects God's love to the world. Everyone follows a god of some sort. If it's not the One True God you serve, it is the false gods of money, success, comfort, beauty, or power. These idols require unending work. The bank account is never full enough, the body is never sculpted enough, the house is never clean enough. Followers of these false gods are constantly exhausted. Follower of Jesus, you are not required to be enough. You have a God who left His throne in heaven to live the perfect life that you could not and die the death you deserved. The work is finished, so come and rest. The world will be amazed at people who are satisfied to rest rather than constantly achieve.
Resting is not the same as distracting yourself. Distraction is an attempt to forget the hardships of life. Rest is sacrificing work in order to be close to God, who can help you through those hardships. Here a few ways to rest in a healthy way:
- Take a nap or go to bed early.
- Go on a walk and pray.
- Read a book that encourages you in your faith.
- Listen to worship music.
- Do something you truly enjoy–cooking, painting, hiking, etc.
If you are feeling burdened today, Jesus sees you and is calling you to His side. It is okay to leave the laundry on the couch or say "no" to helping for the next event. You are choosing to be obedient, healthy, and holy.