Did you get enough sleep last night? Are you constantly tired? On the other side, have you ever woken up feeling refreshed and satisfied from the sleep of the previous night…looking forward to the next restful sleep you will get? The benefits of a good night’s sleep are numerous. As we sleep, we are rejuvenated as our bodies repair. We are energized. We even burn calories! When we awake, we are refreshed to face the next day.
While we can talk about the benefits of a good night’s sleep, the rest and refreshment God provides brings us to a whole different level. Throughout Scripture, God has a lot to say about rest. In the Beginning, after He had completed the Creation, God rested on the seventh day -providing us a model for life. When Elijah was in the desert -after escaping from the hand of Jezebel, God fed, rested and refreshed Elijah, with multiple good food and much sleep. God rested Jonah who was wearied and irritated about his assignment. In each case, God caused people to be refreshed and re-energized not simply spiritually, but physically as well.
Another vivid example of the rest God provides comes in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus extends a wonderful invitation. He says: ” Come to me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:25). Jesus’ invitation includes everyone and covers everything. In His loving invitation, Jesus is proclaiming that He is the One who provides relief for our human condition and in the daily grind of life. So, we need not be loaded down with regret and guilt that we carry – we come to Jesus and lay our burden down. We lay down disappointments and discouragement. We need not worry and wonder about our eternal destiny, we come to Jesus in faith and lay that burden of worry down.
So, we come to Jesus and lay down our burdens and find rest. But, what does the “rest” that Jesus provides look like? When we come to Jesus, there is a marvelous exchange. He lay down our discouragement and He renews our hope. We lay down our desire to control everything and He renews our faith. We lay down our fear and He renews our trust in Him. We lay down our weakness and He infuses us with His strength.
While you may be aware of your need for physical rest, are you aware of your need to rest for your soul? As the Psalmist writes: “my soul finds rest in God alone.” (Psalm 62:1-2) What burdens do you need to lay at the feet of Jesus. As you think about those questions, remember these from Isaiah: “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”