Thoughts on Rest

Exalting Christ in community and mission

Thoughts on Rest

After the holidays, I had a Sunday-morning conversation with a friend, asking how she was doing. She responded with frustration that despite trying to rest, she didn’t feel rested.

I know that feeling.

You kick back to watch a movie, or you curl up in a chair for half an hour to scroll through social media, and you’re resting, right? Your body is pausing activity to be still, possibly even dozing off for a bit. Then why on earth do we not feel rested?

Our family had to suffer through burnout and depression in order to learn that pausing from physical activity alone is not restorative rest. True rest involves the mind and emotions, too. We personally had to change our habits in pursuit of rest (our bodies demanded it), but with the help of a wise counselor we were able to find a more restful rhythm of life–and, consequently, more energy for work and play.

Before I share practical ways we’ve found that lead to better rest, let’s briefly review the biblical basis for rest.

Scripture has a lot to say to those who are weary, burdened, heavy-laden, and faint of heart. Many of these instances call for waiting, resting, hiding, and trusting. Consider the following passages:

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.… Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:5, 14

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer, from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refugea strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Psalm 61:1-4

For God alone my soul waits in silencefrom him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.… For God alone, O my soul, wait in silencefor my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8

Have you not known? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strengthEven youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Did you catch all those words? Hide, wait, refuge, trust, rest… These are the ways by which those who are weary, faint, and heavy laden may gather strength.

Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. And the Genesis account says that on the seventh day, God Himself rested. This pattern of rest–and our need for it–is woven into the very fabric of who we are, from the foundation of the world. We, as God’s people, must find rest.

There are three concrete ways to think about rest that I have found to be helpful, and they all correspond to familiar images in scripture:

  • The laying down of a burden (Matthew 11:28)
  • The relaxing of tension (Psalm 23:2)
  • The calming of all that is not still. (Psalm 46:10)

When my energy is depleted and I feel that my body and mind are strained, weary, or burdened, these images help me seek restorative rest for both mind and body.

Take some time to meditate on the scriptures above, and in the next post we’ll look at 12 practical ways our family has learned to pursue better rest.



Rachel Donahue