The real struggle for rest

Two weeks ago, someone asked me, “When do you head off?” referring to my upcoming holiday. I replied, “Not soon enough.” Many of you may relate to feeling tired and weary, yearning for a break. However, have you ever looked forward to a holiday only to find yourself just as exhausted afterwards? Despite taking the break you thought you needed, it didn’t restore and refresh you as hoped. So, why do we struggle to truly rest?

We often misunderstand what it means to truly rest, confusing it with merely taking time off and pressing pause on life. Rest is more than doing nothing, indulging ourselves, or checking off a holiday wishlist. While these things can help us find enjoyment, they are not the ultimate solution to our busy, weary lives.

Fear of missing opportunities and decreased productivity drives us to constantly achieve rather than receive. However, true rest involves adopting a posture of receiving. The rhythm of rest is crucial in the Christian life because our faith is about receiving, not achieving. Rest is a gift that comes from God’s grace. When we rest, we remind ourselves that our salvation is found only in Jesus’ finished work for us.

Despite its shiny facade, busyness fails us. Silence and stillness are becoming increasingly foreign in our world of constant connectivity. Boundaries are often blurred between work and leisure through our digital devices. It can feel awkward, but silence and stillness are often where we are reminded of who God is. Rest is where we find God’s peace and enjoy him and his creation.

Rest is where we find God's peace and enjoy him and his creation

Jesus himself took time to rest. Throughout the Gospels, we read that he withdrew from the crowds to pray and spend time alone with his Father. This provided the strength needed for his ministry and ultimately to endure the cross. If Jesus, who was fully God and fully human, needed to rest and pray, how much more do we? He invites us to true rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It’s through this rest that God equips us to love, give grace, forgive, and offer compassion.

The pressure to constantly perform and produce can make us feel guilty for taking breaks or slowing down. Yet, we must set aside time in our schedules for what matters most in life. Like in the story of Mary and Martha, we might need to intentionally leave that to-do list unfinished to spend time with Jesus. We need to ensure we have time to truly switch off and encounter God and his glory, perhaps by changing our environment, spending quality time with family and friends, and immersing ourselves in God’s word and prayer.

The struggle for rest is real, so this summer, be intentional about learning to rest. As our routines and rhythms may change for the next few weeks, don’t lose focus on God, the giver of rest. Pray and ask God by his Spirit to give you rest that refreshes and restores your soul so that you can know a lasting rest. Find encouragement from Psalm 116:7, to help you rest well: “Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.”

Media & Communications Manager