Can Rest Cause You to Thrive?

“God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because He rested in it from all His work of creation which He had done.” Genesis 2:3

"Rest to Thrive" with image of woman sitting at a lakeshore journaling

(NOTE: I’ve taken and expanded on the devotional for June 2 in Heaven and Nature Sing for this blog post!)

For 6 Days God Created, Then He Rested

For six days God created. He spoke our world into existence one system at a time. He created and then filled the earth with all the wonder we see around us. He created the expanse we see in the night skies above us. Then He rested.

The Hebrew word translated here “made it holy” is qadash. It means to be set apart or consecrated.

God set apart a day for rest. He feels so strongly about keeping a rhythm of rest in our lives that many generations later when He gave Moses the law, a day of rest was an essential part of it.

It was called shabbat (or as we say, sabbath). A 24-hour period each week where His people were called to focus on Him instead of our work.

man sitting in a chair reading his Bible and drinking coffee
Rest can include Bible reading and prayer

It’s the fourth of the 10 Commandments God gave to Moses:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God.

You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

For in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11

A Culture of Busyness

Our modern culture—even the Church—has pretty much obliterated any sense of a weekly rhythm of rest. And it’s been slowly wrecking our lives.

When God rested after He created everything we see, it wasn’t because He was tired! He doesn’t need rest. He set aside a day of rest for us because He knows we need it.

He was setting an example for us.

two women having a cookout at a beach
Rest can mean being with others

I recently had the chance to meet and interview a mental health counselor who lives in my area for another blog I own. One of the things she said captured my attention:

“There’s so much pressure associated with our modern lives. Everybody is under pressure in terms of time, but also expectations. People are juggling multiple roles that have too many demands on their time and energy.

“Sometimes if you ask people what they do for fun they look at you cross-eyed. There’s no time for fun. And there’s no room for it mentally. Which is exactly why you need to go have fun!

“And in our American culture, we often get kudos for being extra busy. There’s this weird thing out there that if you’re stressed and frazzled, you’re a superhero.”

(You can read our full interview here: 6 Key Ways Outdoor Recreation Boosts Mental Health)

I’ve heard it called something else: a toxic schedule.

Is this really the way the Lord calls us to live?

man sits on a cabin porch overlooking a mountain valley in early evening
Rest can mean being alone

Rest to Thrive

A secular website, Inc.com, writes: “A Day of Rest: 12 Scientific Reasons it Works.” The article says that among the benefits of a weekly day of rest are:

  • Reduced stress
  • A chance to be physically active
  • Reduced inflammation and risk of heart disease
  • Stronger immune system
  • Better sleep
  • Years added to your life
  • Restored mental energy
  • More creativity
  • Better focus and productivity the rest of the week

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?!

Our good, good Father knows what He’s doing. Since He made each one of us He knows what’s best for us. He knows how our integrated body/mind/soul/spirit thrives.

How faithful are you about keeping a weekly rhythm of rest? Something to think about.

woman relaxes in a kayak overlooking a huge lake
Rest can be total relaxation

Biblical Sabbath: What is it?

We read in the Bible that the Israelite people, later called the Jews in the New Testament, often went from one extreme to the other:

They either completely ignored the Sabbath or they went overboard and added a ton of their own rules to it.

By the time Jesus walked the earth, He saw He needed to shake things up a bit. The religious leaders of His day were so set in their traditions that most of them completely overlooked Jesus’ astounding miracles, partly because of their offense over His breaking their Sabbath rules.

What does a true biblical Sabbath look like? If we go all the way back to Genesis, it’s seeing one day a week as holy. Set apart. Consecrated to God.

So ask God for some guidance for your own life. How does He want you to honor Him in that day of rest? To consecrate that time? What does a rhythm of rest look like for you?

hiker at the top of a high hill overlooking fall colors and a lake below
Rest can be doing something you enjoy

Rest isn’t Just Physical

If we think we’re to take this word rest and apply it to just physical rest, we’ve missed the point.

I have a book called The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero. Among other topics, he focuses on this idea of Sabbath. Here’s a diagram he uses to help us see God’s design for rest in our lives:

image of Secular and Sacred Rhythm
(from The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scarrero, p. 145)

Can you see how much more sustainable our whole-person health is with God’s “sacred rhythm”? If you go back up to that list of the benefits of weekly rest, you may have noticed several of them are mental and emotional benefits.

Mr. Scarrero offers many more truth nuggets about Sabbath in this book. Here are a few that stand out to me:

“Keeping the Sabbath is a core spiritual discipline—an essential delivery mechanism for God’s grace and goodness in our lives.” (p. 156)

“Sabbath is God’s good gift to His people.” (p. 157)

“…demonic powers seek to keep us enslaved to our work [and he stresses this work can be paid or unpaid] and prevent us from Sabbath delight.” (p. 158)

(The Emotionally Healthy Leader and other materials by Peter Scazzero are available on his website.)

four family members in their hammocks at a campsite
The treasure of family Rest—even when your kids are grown! (photo courtesy of Dusty and Kirsten Voorhees)

Living by God’s Sacred Rhythm

Again—How does God want you to honor that day of rest? To make it holy by honoring Him in it? How does He want you to include a rhythm of rest in your life?

Ask Him! He’ll delight to show you.

(All scriptures from the World English Bible, public domain)

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Sharon Brodin
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