Jesus, the Giver of Rest
Since the start of the pandemic, people are more eager for vacations in which they can actually rest, claims an Expedia survey. The question may arise as to why one would need rest during a pandemic when so many of us are already at home and isolated from others far more than in times before COVID.
It seems that people need a break from what has become their regular schedules. Rest is known to boost creativity and productivity, to reduce stress, and to heal. Rest can also increase gratitude. Rest may increase our gratitude for the Sabbath, the gift of rest we are given each week.
An article for RELEVANT Magazine by author and entrepreneur Adrienne Scrima states why we need a Sabbath. According to Scrima, the effects of ignoring other commandments are obvious, but not so with the Sabbath. Her six points are:
- God created the Sabbath for man. This day of rest is a gift.
- Rest transforms work. It is not easy for us to take a day of rest, rather it takes intentional effort.
- Rest transforms leisure. There is a difference between just not doing anything and actively choosing a day of rest.
- Rest prevents burnout. Resting gives us a chance to make sure we are not doing too much.
- Sabbaths require trust in God. We must trust God that “work that has to get done will get done.”
- God knows us better than we know ourselves. “Work can be exhausting and a distraction from God.”
Sabbath needs to be different from our everyday schedules. It needs to be intentional to allow God to teach us. In other words, the need for rest, for Sabbath, doesn’t disintegrate but is equally as important during this stressful time.
As we study the gift of rest this week, we are reminded that Sabbath is important in the past, the present, and the future. The passage in Deuteronomy 5:12-15 reminds us of the importance of God’s past leading. It was God who led Israel out of Egypt. In Exodus 20:11, we see that it was God who rested after creating the earth. This gift looks back at the heritage we have as children of God.
The Sabbath is important in the present because it meets our need for rest, and for renewal. It gives an opportunity to move away from the things that consume our attention and busy our schedules during the other six days. Hebrews 4:9 reminds us that there is Sabbath rest for the people of God, and verse 11 challenges us to “. . . be diligent to enter that rest . . .”
The future is promised to us by a loving, saving God. As we examine the last part of Hebrews 4:11, “. . . so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience,” we think of God’s promises. We cannot let the busyness of today keep us from the decisions that prepare us for the future.
The Sabbath provides opportunity for us to remember, to refocus, to prioritize. Now is important because it is now when we make decisions, now when we decide what is imperative, now when we choose to trust and follow God.
Connecting: Can you think of a time or times when you have enjoyed the rest that Jesus provides? How could you share that experience with others? What are three things that made this time special?
Sharing: As you contemplate the verses from Hebrews 4, what is important about the rest experienced in Sabbath?
- It is given by God.
- It must be kept by doing precisely the same thing from week to week.
- God not only offers us rest, but rests as well.
- We should be very concerned about how others rest on Sabbath.
- Taking time to rest is a way of opening our hearts to God.
Applying: One thing that makes special occasions just that, special, is the fact that we share them with others. Look around your extended family, your neighborhood, your church family for someone with whom you might share Sabbath. Could you help someone else enjoy that Sabbath rest because you reached out to them? (Suggestions: Share food, a FaceTime visit, a personal visit)