Goodnight, Sleep Tight Day 2: The Importance of Rest
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 5:12-14, ESV)
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:30-31, ESV)
Sleep is vital. Our bodies were designed to need sleep. When we deprive ourselves of sleep, our bodies will literally shut down and force themselves into sleep no matter what we may be doing. Our sleep affects our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, and it should be prioritized. Rest, however, is not as vital but equally as important. Rest can be active and passive. For example, rest can be observed both by taking a quick walk outside and by sitting down and catching your breath. Our fast-paced world values work and effort far more than rest. You have to work more hours to make more money to buy more things to keep you on the move. We were not meant to be going all the time! Rest is essential.
Without rest our mental health suffers. I can remember being in my senior year of college, with a loaded plate of seven courses, pushing sleep and rest to the bottom of my priorities list. I would have all-night study sessions and head to my 8 a.m. course to immediately take an exam. I was rushing back and forth from school to home to church in what felt like an endless circle, and my mental health was suffering. When we don’t allow our bodies time to rest, it is so easy to become burned out. We were not designed to keep our bodies running at 100% all the time. When rest is not a priority, our brain chemistry cannot function properly, which can lead to mental health disorders and so many struggles with focus, motivation, and drive.
Without rest, our physical health suffers. During that same time period of my life in college, I suffered a lot physically. My anxiety was running high, which made me feel sick all the time. I had no interest in food, and because of my severe diet change, my body suffered. When we don’t allow our bodies to rest, we completely throw off its ability to function. With our brain chemistry thrown off, our bodies cannot give appropriate signals, which can make us feel physically the ramifications of a busy lifestyle.
Without rest, our spiritual health suffers. If you’re anything like me, it can be really easy to let the pressures of everyday life become overwhelming, putting spiritual needs on the back burner. Our fast-paced society and the internet make it so hard to not feel like you need to be doing something at all times. Our bosses can reach us at a moment’s notice. We can see breaking news with just a simple notification. Stress and pressure can build quickly, and to find relief we often think we must keep pushing and keep doing to clear off our to-do list. This is not how God designed life to be. As we discussed yesterday, God established rest as a vital aspect of our week. He carved out time to reflect on His creation and to rest, knowing that His work was done. We need that time of Sabbath rest with God—and every day in between. Without moments of quiet, rest, and reflection with God, we will suffer spiritually and perpetuate the cycle of mental and physical issues.
Rest is essential, and it is a command from God. He specifically required His people to rest on the Sabbath Day. They were not allowed to work on their trade or go out into their fields; the Sabbath was meant for rest alone. It seems kind of funny that God had to literally command His people to rest, but He knew that though they would need it, they would choose not to rest but to work.
My challenge to you today is to carve time out of your schedule to rest. You could take a 20-minute walk at lunch time, spend an hour in the evenings reading a book, or devote 10 minutes to sit still and simply be present with God. Choose to unplug on Sundays. Make an effort not to check emails or work threads, but to truly spend the day in a state of rest, reflecting on God and His goodness. However you decide to do it—choose rest.