Resting seems like it should be something easy. Rest. Get some sleep. Enjoy the weekend. Got it. But what if God meant for rest to be so much more? It’s kind of crazy that it’s actually challenging to rest, especially in the American culture that’s telling you to go, go, go.
What does the Bible say about rest? Biblical rest is not only something we do for our body, soul, and spirit, but a form of worship and a way to experience more of Jesus’ love for us. Deep rest is when we completely trust the sovereignty of God and lean into His Holy Spirit even in the midst of the craziest situations.
To better understand how to rest, let’s look at what the Bible has to say.
God rested on the seventh day of creation in Genesis 2:1-3. He didn’t do it because He was worn out or sleepy, but He did it for our good, to model how to keep the Sabbath holy.
Now, since we are under the new covenant, we don’t have to adhere to all the Old Testament rules about keeping the seventh day holy, our Sabbath doesn’t even have to be on Sunday. In fact, not only can we rest on one day of the week, but we are invited to rest in Jesus every day, at any time.
Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28 CSB
Rest is a Gift
At times, resting doesn’t even seem feasible. Sometimes, it may even seem intimidating. There’s too much going on, work is piling up, and the to-do list is never-ending, to rest would mean disaster. Trust me, I’m a full-time college student with a part-time job on campus, I would know.
However, our rest is not dependent on our surroundings, but on the one who gives us rest as a gift.
We don’t have to be lounging on a spa chair in the Caribbean to rest or watching a TV show at the end of the day. We can rest in God regardless of our surroundings and environment.
Remember when Elijah took a nap? After King Ahab and Queen Jezebel told Elijah that they were hunting him down to kill him, Elijah felt as if he couldn’t take it any longer. All the other prophets had been killed, he was scared out of his mind, and he was running away into the wilderness, which was a lonely place to be.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’
And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.” ‘ And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.
And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”’ And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.1 Kings 19:4-8 ESV
Before all of this, Elijah wanted to die. Here is a prophet of the Lord, wishing, hoping, that dying would be a more restful way out.
If you’re struggling with thoughts like these, maybe the rest your soul needs is to talk with someone you love and trust. I pray in Jesus’ name that you find the deep rest you need, and the strength to be honest. Your honesty, like Elijah’s, could be the next step towards healing and deep rest.
Can’t you just imagine Elijah putting his head down under that broom tree after a good long cry? By the way, crying can be a form of resting. It’s simple how God provides and responds next in this story.
God gives Elijah a hot, yummy cake, a drink, and more time to nap. Wow. You were expecting some deep, theological, answer, weren’t you?
Well, as much as the power of rest can be used in the intentional work of our Counselor, Holy Spirit, or through a therapist, it can also be accessed by relying on God and taking a nap.
Rest is Worshipful
Even though it’s funny how God shows us how dependable we are on him by designing us to need 7-9 hours of sleep a day, deep rest doesn’t always have to be during our REM cycle. And it isn’t some event we have to attend, like a vacation in the Caribbean.
Rest doesn’t have to be super complicated either. Deep, holy, rest is meditating on God’s peace and comfort at any point in our day. It’s worshipful because we recognize that He’s in control and has the final say in our lives. We’re called to do whatever we do for the Lord, so why would rest be any different?
The Quiet Place
If you don’t feel like you have enough time for rest, look at what Jesus said to the disciples before the feeding of the five thousand:
Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.Mark 6:31 NIV
Jesus knew there would be a long day of preaching ahead, he knew it would be a tiring day. Despite this, he offers rest, and not only that but later on, he multiplied the loaves and fish, so much so that there were leftovers afterward and they were all satisfied.
If you’re struggling to surrender to God and rest, ask Him to multiply your time like the loaves and fish. Ask him to lead you into that quiet place. Even Jesus needed a quiet place to get away and rest in the Father.
Yet He (Jesus) often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.Luke 5:16 CSB
Resting is Fun
Resting doesn’t have to be boring. Do you know that feeling of deep contentment and rest after laughing? Maybe do something that makes you laugh.
What is restful for you? How can you meditate on God’s Word and rest deeply in it? Is journaling your jam? Pull out a notebook, a piece of paper, or even a napkin and write down a couple of ideas.
Some practical, simple ways to rest are:
- Meditating on God’s Word
- Gentle exercising
- Listening to worship music
- Taking a walk
- Or, whatever floats your boat
Resting for you could be as simple as breathing slowly, drinking a glass of water or tea, or maybe doing a little victory dance in between sets of work.
Jesus Cares for Us
Whatever you end up doing, know that Jesus is with you. He gave us rest as a gift, as a way to know His character, and as a way to worship Him, so meditate in His presence.
Jesus loves you and cares for you deeply. Not only does He care for your spiritual health, but your physical and mental health too. Surrender to Him no matter how busy you are, and trust Him to give you the deep rest you need.