Yes, Rest for the Weary

When all you want is a little relief.

Matthew Henry


IF YOU'VE LIVED LONG ENOUGH, you've endured periods of unrest in your life.

These seasons come in many forms, but I suspect they affect us all. Some might have to deal with illness, either chronic or acute. Some might be struggling with stress from work keeping them up at night. Still others might just have more to do than they have time to accomplish. These are just a few examples.

Through these seasons it can be difficult to carry on. All we want is some reliefrest from the chaos. It's only by the hope of rest that we can continue.

If I can just make it until 5:00 PM, then I can rest.
If I can survive this semester, I'll be okay.
If I can endure for seven days, this infection will be gone.

Doctors love to prescribe fluids and rest for patients dealing with a variety of illnesses. And, of course, this is sound advice. But what if sleeping provides no rest at all?

Job sought sleep as relief from his ailment. But when he slept he dreamed terrifying dreams, such that he found no rest. As a result, without any promise of rest he lost hope, praying instead for death:

When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
    my couch will ease my complaint,’
then you scare me with dreams
    and terrify me with visions,
so that I would choose strangling
    and death rather than my bones.

Job 7:13-15

Some commentators suggest Job's nightmares were a side affect of his illness. If so, he probably endured fever dreams--dreams and hallucinations that typically occur in conjunction with elevated body temperatures. If you've never experienced fever dreams before, let me assure that these are real.

When I had a terrible case of the flu several years ago, I laid on the couch for nearly a week slipping in and out of consciousness meanwhile experiencing some of the most unsettling dreams you could imagine.

Whether or not this is what Job dealt with, it is clear that without the promise of rest, he could no longer endure.

Isn't this true for us too?

We can endure pain if we know there's an end in sight. But when there's no obvious way out of our struggles, hopelessness sets in.

Fortunately for us, we do have the promise of rest, something Job did not have. 

As the author of Hebrews reminds us:

There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:9-10

This promise is the antidote to hopelessness and despair, giving us the strength to rise for the day despite another sleepless night.

Because even if relief doesn't come on earth, we know that those in Christ will have a Sabbath rest. And this kind of rest is perfect and eternal.

So if you're in the midst of a season of unrest, hold fast to God. Rest is on the way.

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in my curated, chronological Old Testament reading plan with notes. I've combed through the first portion of the Bible and selected the most critical chapters for your perusal, wrapped up in a 90-day reading plan.

Whether you've read through the OT before or always get stuck at Leviticus, this guide will help you gain a deeper understanding of God's word as a whole.

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