Rest

As we’ve all been adapting and changing to this temporarily augmented way of life because of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people will have been working harder, longer, and in stranger ways than ever before.

We set off sprinting into this pandemic, but we seem to have accepted that it isn’t going away anytime soon so we’ve slowed to marathon pace. Along the way, it’s now important that we pause and rest appropriately if we want to keep going.

So then, 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

Our enemy wants to keep us busy, distracted, stressed, and full of thoughts that are ultimately not about things that are good, noble, right, and pure (Philippians 4.8). He wants you bogged-down in the nitty-gritty of the here and now and everything that could go wrong, certainly not resting.

But, we really do need to rest! Lots of folks think about resting as going to the beach, doing nothing, firing up Netflix and kicking back on the couch to find out just how many tigers a man needs to keep. Maybe your idea of rest is different; maybe you rest by exercising, spending time with friends and family, sharing a meal, the list could go on and on…

We can have true rest from stress, anxiety, worries and weariness, and from our great accuser through one place and One person only: through Jesus

Hebrews 3 and 4 develops this idea that Jesus Himself is our rest, and the key to us understanding this is to understand what Jesus Himself said!

Jesus declared Himself as Lord of the sabbath in Matthew 12.8, and in Mark 2.27 said that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. 

In Hebrews we read of how a relationship with Jesus frees us from the works-based righteousness that being under a law demands. Jesus has done all of the work needed to satisfy the righteous requirements of God (John 19.28-30), and because of this, we can rest easy. There is no longer an incessant need to work, to earn, to strive for righteousness, to bear your own burdens and work them away, to occupy our every waking moment with thoughts of being good enough or accepted.

We can rest, we can recharge, and we can regroup and not worry that we are not fulfilling laws and expectations by doing so.

Jesus serves as our Sabbath rest in the sense that He provides freedom from living under the works of the law. Instead, His sacrifice has paid the price for our salvation in full. We accept salvation as His free gift, entering into His rest both now as well as in eternity in His presence. 

No pandemic or earthly circumstances will every change this, so whilst it might be tempting to work a bit longer, a bit harder, or a bit more because your situation has changed, never forget that the rest you have in Jesus is real and ready. The stress, anxiety, and burnout that comes from overworking yourself to try and get on top of your earthly circumstances will only increase the harder you try. 

So today rest, recharge, refocus, and remember that this is all possible through Jesus.

Is This All There Is?

In answering our last big question, we came to the conclusion that we cannot fix our own problems, but that there is One who can. Now, Job continues in despair and seems to ask, ‘Is this all there is?’.

“Has not man a hard service on earth,
and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?”

Job 7.1

Job is feeling like he has been conscripted to fight in a battle that is not his (a hard service), and feels trapped in this position (the days of a hired hand). This is certainly a difficult place to be in. 

Have you ever felt like that? That you have been sucked into a situation and battle that is not your own, or that you are so totally trapped in something you cannot envisage a way out?

At times like this we should look to the most repeated command in the Word and the most repeated promise in the Word, both of which can be found in Isaiah 41,

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Fear not, don’t worry, don’t stress, don’t let anxiety get the better of you, because I am with you.

David Guzik writes on this,

“Years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a wonderful book titled, Your God is too Small. In it, he showed how when people forget the greatness of God, they easily become dismayed. But God says, be not dismayed, for I am your God.

Job was in a situation that seemed to be world-ending. His circumstances were getting on top of him, he was dismayed, and his thoughts were leading him to conclude that this was all there was ever going to be. This is so easy to do.

But, the command and promise of God tell us something different. There is more. There is One who promises to walk the difficult road with us, to carry us if need be, to join us in the battle, to fight the battle for us.

There was more for Job, and there is more for you.

Spiritual Depression – Fear Of The Future

We are all born different, aren’t we. It is one way we see the wondrous workings of God; all made differently yet able to be so unified in belief, thought, action, heart, and mind. When we think of the future, some are excited, some are worried, some are paralysed with fear, some are confused, so, what do we do?

Importantly, we need to distinguish between thinking about the future well, and worrying about the future unnecessarily. Lloyd-Jones writes that there is a difference between ‘legitimate forethought and paralysing forethought‘. One allows a farmer to plow the field and sow his seed, the other can lead us to a paralysed present because of what-if worries. 

We have talked before about leaving the past in the past, but also just as true is worrying about a future we cannot control. Many times in Scripture we see this idea of ‘think about today, today, and let tomorrow be tomorrow‘ (Matthew 6.25-34 for example). 

When fear of the future strikes us, which it inevitably does despite the varied makeups of our character including those who seem to be unruffled and steadfastly sure, where do we look?

“…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1.7

The Spirit of power is that which raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8.11), and this power now indwells you as a fully regenerate born-again believer. Now, this is not to say you can go around resurrecting people, but, this needs to be a constant reminder that we give ourselves – the Holy Spirit lives in me, God has given me a spirit not of fear, but of power.

When we are tempted to worry about an unknown future, we must commit our unknown future to a known God as Corrie Ten Boom said. The Spirit of love allows us to know that we are loved by God Most High, that we take the focus off self-love, self-care, self-protection and rest in the fact that the Spirit of love surrounds us, cares for us, and will protect us even from ourselves.

The Spirit of self-control gives us, seemingly miraculously for some, the ability to soak in God’s Word, to understand the timeless truths therein, and to internalise this so deeply that when troubles come, when trials cross our paths, we have a mind that is so saturated with the Word and the truths of God that we can maintain control and not veer off into unnecessary future worry.   

“…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1.7

Lloyd-Jones closes the discussion on future fears like this,

…to those who are particularly prone to spiritual depression through…fear of the future, I say in the Name of God…talk to yourself, remind yourself of what is true…remind yourself of who you are and what you are, and of what Spirit is within you…and you will be able to go steadily forward, fearing nothing, living in the present, ready for the future, with one desire only, to glorify Him who gave His all for you.