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What does the Bible say about rest?

Rest is a skill that lots of people spend years trying to perfect. People have their own schedules for rest, including self-care routines, watching tv, sleeping, or anything else that soothes them. And while some of these things can be ok, I've learned that it's not complete rest.

I've tried to include music, my favorite shows, hobbies, and sleep into my routine in order to make me feel better, yet I never feel rested afterwards. After a while with a busy schedule, it exhausted me. Mentally, I felt like there was nothing that I could do to feel completely at rest and soothed.

In the Bible, God has a lot to say about rest- in fact, he says everything we need to know about it.

So, how do we rest?

Rest is spiritual, not just physical

One of the things that I've always loved about God is that he cares about a person's heart just as much, if not more, than the outer appearance of a person. God values spiritual over physical in all areas of life and declares that it's important.

If a person drives a car that looks great on the outside, but never tends to the components on the inside, the car won't perform anywhere near as well, and it won't last. In life, people tend to place the most value on what is seen, but God cares about what is unseen as well.

In 2 Corinthians 2:13, Paul states that "his spirit was not at rest". This shows that rest is not just a physical thing. Sleeping can help, and God doesn't condone sleep, but rest is a spiritual thing as well.

I can feel a difference in my spirit when I've spent time with God and when I haven't. The days and weeks that I try to rest on my own never end up well; I always come back to God incredibly worn out physically and spiritually. Have you ever felt that difference in the peace and belonging when you're in God's presence? This is spiritual rest, and it has way more benefits than physical rest will ever have.

The world can praise naps, baths, massages, and working out for all the rest it gives, but it will never last if done alone because it's a simple physical activity being used to bring satisfaction instead of God.

You can only get true rest from God

Every verse in the Bible that teaches us about rest points to how God gives that rest. He even calls rest his rest (Hebrews 4:3-5). Without resting in him, we're delaying true rest. I've experienced that myself a lot this year and learned that even if you've known God for years, you're still prone to running to other things for satisfaction or peace.

Those tv shows can be entertaining, but they are not meant to be your rest. The naps that you take are not even true rest if you haven't truly come to God. Without God, you will continually be looking for things to satisfy you because true rest is found only in Him.

Jesus explains this perfectly in a few sentences in Matthew 11:

"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." -Matthew 11:28-29

Jesus offers free rest in Him if we come to Him. Not only does he explain that we need Him to rest, but he describes that our souls will find rest if we come to him.

Coming to Jesus can also mean walking away from something. A lot of times our minds will wrap us up in the number of responsibilities we have and prevent us from thinking about God in the moment. It can be easy to become stressed out, and it can be hard to take the step in coming to Jesus when we need it.

Some days are started by analyzing our entire week's schedule (if you're an over thinker like me) and trying to mentally juggle everything we have to do before we even get out of bed.

Instead of letting this take control in our minds, we need to train ourselves to remember God and who he is when stress arises.

"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish." - Jeremiah 31:25

Balance work and rest like God did in Genesis

"By the seventh day God had finished all the work he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation."

- Genesis 2:2-3

If God rests, we should rest too! We should remember that he blessed the seventh day and wants to keep it holy. If you feel like you have to work seven days a week in order to keep your life in order, know that the God of the universe rests, and he wants you too, as well.

It seems like every Sunday is the day I remember I need to work on something, but God allows us a day every week to rest and believes in resting. Plus, if we never rest, how will we do everything else during the week to our best potential?

In a fast-paced world obsessed with busy schedules, it can feel out of place to stop and rest. We often feel like we're not doing enough when we rest, knowing that the people around us are still working. It can be easy to compare, but Jesus places more value on resting in him than doing anything and everything.

One of the best examples of this are when Jesus visits Mary and Martha in Luke 10:

"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but the one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her." -Luke 10:38-42

What is most necessary for us is to rest at Jesus' feet in his presence. Even though the laundry, dishes, school assignments, and what needs to be done at work tomorrow are screaming at you, it's ok to stop and rest in Jesus' presence.

Our purpose isn't to check off all of our to-do lists every hour of every day without fail and make sure we never skip a beat- our purpose as Jesus followers is to be in relationship with Jesus, glorify him, and follow him.

Although God calls us to serve, he doesn't ever say in the Bible to never rest. As long as you're spending time with Him, you're not wasting time.

So, if you're like me and you have to list out everything, make that list, and then give it to God. Although your week might look like this:

To do:

  • Wake up before six

  • Clean the kitchen

  • Do the laundry

  • Pay bills

  • Cut the grass

  • Complete twenty assignments

  • Pick up the kids from school

  • Cook dinner

  • Make ten phone calls

It doesn't mean that you can't truly rest in God. Sometimes it's with the biggest to do lists that I have that God shows me that I need to lay it down for now and just sit at his feet. Instead of looking at the long list of things I need to do, maybe make this list instead:


  • spend time with Jesus

That is ultimate rest. It's hard, but sometimes we just need to pause the list of things on our mind and come to God.

If you're seeking rest this week and are feeling like nothing is soothing you, the only way you can feel peace is to spend time with Jesus. He'll take care of you, and he'll provide everything needed for what you need to do today.

Thank you for reading! If you'd like to read more, make sure to scroll to the bottom for related posts!

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"For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.””

‭‭- Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭3‬-‭5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."

- Psalm 91:1

"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

- Psalm 23:3

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