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The Necessity of Rest

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The world is breaking. We see it and we feel it in unimaginable ways. It’s not that we’ve missed our history lessons on the atrocities of the past. It’s just that those situations weren’t supposed to make their way into the present, but here they are. The tragedies of today remain alive through our conversations, social media postings, and news coverage. Sometimes, this is to our benefit. It’s good to stay informed and figure out how we can make difference. Keeping topics alive can also help us to find justice in situations that would have otherwise been subverted.

But there’s another side to consider. Sensational coverage also drives corporate revenue, instills fear, and demands our continued engagement through clickbait. The goal is for us to remain plugged in, at all times, because there is a lot of money to be made from us staying connected. By staying digitally connected at all times, we’re training our brains to crave this stimulation. For some, it borders addiction. Yet it’s interesting that with all of our supposed connectivity, we’re falling further apart as a society.

One of the greatest challenges of being “talked to” a lot, is that we don’t really have the space to cope. We can’t process what’s happening the way we need to because the chaos just keeps coming. Whether it’s family, our churches, the community, or global events, the number of problems continue to rise. Our social media feeds continue to grow. Our ability to keep up starts to diminish, and the feeling of being overwhelmed becomes more constant. We’re trying so hard to keep up when God advised us of no such thing. In fact, God set quite a different example for us – and that is one of rest. We are to take time away and unplug, because that’s the actually the best way to reconnect.

The Origins of Rest

If we take a step back, we’ll see that God introduced the concept of rest early in the Bible before sin entered this world. Seven days are accounted to creation, yet God only worked for six. So what happened on day seven? Genesis 2:2-3 tells us:

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

God considered rest so important, that He blessed it and sanctified what we later would call the Sabbath. In particular, Sabbath rest is quite special. It lasts for 24 hours. During this time, we set aside all of the cares of this world to commune with God and enter into His holiness. It’s not a time to cram in more work or run errands. Instead, the Sabbath is a mandated break – one we so desperately need because it allows us a chance to reconnect with God and clear our minds from the chaos of this world.

Sabbath rest also provides a blueprint for the type of rest we need throughout the week. We learn how to place our jobs, worries, and desires into God’s hands, without feeling the need to maintain control. Trusting in God allows us to enter into moments of physical and mental rest, prioritizing our own wellbeing over society’s need to stay “plugged in”. We experience the value in taking a break, finding moments to let go, and allowing ourselves the space to recenter. God didn’t need rest, but He knew we would, and because of that – He gave us the gift of His example.

The Choice to Rest

Yet to experience rest in its fullness, we must also embrace the concepts of commitment and of discipline. Whether it’s entering into Sabbath rest or finding adequate rest throughout the week – it takes a conscious decision to rest. Now, rest may look different for each of us. We may choose to meditate, take an evening run, or set up a quiet bubble bath. Nevertheless, no matter the option, we have to choose to step away from our day-to-day needs and allow our minds to settle without the influence of any device or human voice. Rest doesn’t just come to us – we must take it. And it takes practice to break the habit of fidgeting with our phones or filling our minds with distractions so that we can experience the benefits of rest.

We need this time away.

God creating the Sabbath wasn’t just a lesson on rest to worship Him; He knew we’d need it to thrive throughout our journey in this world.  Rest is an important part of holding onto our sanity. We have to recharge, especially as darkness is growing. Self-care is critical even when other people label it as useless or selfish. We will not make our best decisions or hear God clearly in a state of distraction or unnecessary exhaustion. There is power in rest, and we should tap into it, even though the world is asking us to do otherwise.

The devil is busy bombarding us with distractions and situations that will pull us away from rest. He wants us to remain unsettled and unfocused.  This is why Jesus said in Matthew 11:28: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. There will be times when rest is hard to come by because life has shaken us to our cores. We search, we have devotion, we do everything we possibly can and yet we still do not experience the rest we need. Nevertheless, Christ has compassion on us, and is willing to give us what we cannot give ourselves. With God, there is always the space to find rest and clarity. We just have to trust that it is probable, and then it is God who will show us that it’s always possible.

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