When was the last time you had some rest, a break from the craziness of life? If you’re like most people, your life is lived in a whirlwind of the daily hustle. You get the kids ready in the morning, rush them to school, then work a tough job all day long until you get home. Then you make dinner, help with homework, drag everyone to a game or recital, and return home to do a household chore or two. Finally you fall into bed and catch just a few precious hours of sleep before doing it all again.
Sound familiar? Then there’s some good news you need to hear today. God wants you to rest. Together we’ll look at a few reasons why rest is so important.
GOD COMMANDS REST
Growing up, my mom would often remind me that if something shows up in God’s word, it’s important. But if the same idea shows up multiple times? It’s really important. And the topic of rest just happens to be something that shows up frequently throughout our reading of the Scriptures.
- The Creation account (Genesis 2:2-3). God Himself, after six solid days of creating everything we see on the earth and above it, rested on the seventh day. And He made it holy, inviting us to rest, too.
- Old Testament Sabbath Laws (Exodus 23:12). Israel was instructed to work six days, then everyone including servants, animals, and even visitors from out of town rest on the seventh. All for a great reason, too, “so that you may be refreshed.”
- Jesus offers it (Matthew 11:28-30). He graciously promises rest in place of our burdens. A rest that is more than just a break for our tired bodies, but rest for our very souls.
GOD UNDERSTANDS OUR NEED FOR REST
Rest is more than just a command to be obeyed for obedience’ sake. Rest is something that God knows we desperately need, especially in the difficult times. For example, consider a small portion of the prophet Elijah’s story. In 1 Kings 19:3-9, we read that after the miraculous events at Mt. Carmel, Elijah was on the run from an angry queen. Here, we find Elijah hiding and wishing for his own death.
How God reacts to Elijah in this moment is a detail you won’t want to miss. God does not come down to kick Elijah in the backside, insisting he “man up” and keep working. Instead, God understands his need. He saw the emotional and physical weakness Elijah was experiencing. So in great kindness and compassion, God gives him sleep and sends an angel to deliver food and water.
Just so you know, God sees your exhaustion, too. And He wants to give you rest, maybe even in a form you weren’t expecting. Maybe it’s a neighbor or fellow church member offering to watch your kids for an evening. Maybe it’s a work-heavy promotion that you have the freedom to say “no” to. Since He loves you and cares about you, you can know that He’s offering you opportunities for rest. Just look around for a moment to find them.
REST SHOWS OFF GOD'S POWER AND PROVISION
Many of us have bought into a lie that we absolutely must hustle our way to the top. We’ve got to work nonstop to achieve our dreams. Maybe “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is even your favorite motto. But denying yourself much-needed rest in order to accomplish a goal robs you of an opportunity to see God work on your behalf.
In Exodus 16:4-27, we find the nation of Israel in the middle of their wilderness wandering. God arranges enough food to be available every single day, but instructs that they keep no leftovers for the next morning. Why? Because the food would go bad so quickly, rotted by the next morning. However, God gave them additional instructions to gather more than usual on the sixth day so that they can rest on the seventh day. And miraculously, the extra food gathered on the sixth day was always perfectly preserved and ready to eat on the seventh.
God knew His people needed rest. So even in his miraculous provision of daily food, He showed off His power even more as He made rest possible. Is God telling you to take a break that you don’t think is possible right now? If He is, trust that He’s powerful enough to provide for you in the middle of your rest.