We should all feel super rested right now, right?
I mean, we haven’t gone anywhere. We haven’t really done anything. All the obligations, appointments, and activities were erased like a blackboard weeks ago, and we’ve been at home ever since. For years, all of us have talked about how busy we are, how tired we are, and how much we wish we could just find a little more margin in our lives instead of being so overcommitted.
Well here we are.
So why are we all so exhausted?
Counter-intuitive, isn’t it? At least for me, I am not less tired since the stay-at-home orders began; I am more tired. Now part of that, I’m sure, is purely psychological. Much has been written in the past few weeks on the newly minted “zoom fatigue” and what causes it. Likewise, some of the tiredness is due to a general sense of anxiety and stress. But the fact that we are so tired, even in the midst of doing nothing but being at home, also shows us at least a few things about true rest.
1. Rest is elusive.
First of all, staying at home for the last two months has shown us just how elusive rest really is. Resting is not just a matter of eliminating activities, reducing scheduling, or having more time more time on your hands. Apparently not. That means, among other things, that all those times I (and maybe you) blamed my lack of rest on my schedule or commitments, I was looking in the wrong direction. So what is the right direction?
As the old adage goes, We have seen the enemy and he is us. Rest is elusive because it is not primarily a reflection of our calendars; it’s primarily a reflection of the state of our hearts. In many ways, if resting was just a matter of being a better time manager, then we would be able to take a masterclass on that subject and call it a day. But it’s not. It’s deeper than that.
2. Rest is heart work.
Real rest requires heart work more than calendar work. That’s not to say that some calendar work isn’t required, but it is to say that one of the big things we’ve learned about rest is that you can still be anxiety-ridden and exhausted even when your calendar is empty. Real rest is a state of the heart we enter into only when we are following Jesus:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-29).
Following Jesus involves all kinds of things, but all those things begin with heart work and then flow outward.
3. Rest is by faith.
“Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11).
The kind of rest described here isn’t so much an isolated instance but a state of being that’s lived inside of. So let us return again to the perplexing question of why we aren’t rested, even after having had multiple weeks of being at home. It’s because real rest only comes by faith. And, conversely, real rest can’t be had until we start believing all the things that the gospel confirms for us:
That we have nothing left to prove before man and God.
That our identify is secure as a child of God in Christ.
That God will give us our daily bread as surely as He sacrificed His Son for us.
That come what may, we will never be separated from His love in Jesus.
These are the things that keep us from resting, and these are the things the gospel tells us. So how do you make every effort to enter this state? To live with a sense of rest? You do it by faith. By believing the gospel. And that belief moves us moment by moment, over and over again, into the firm conviction that we can lay our burdens on the back of Jesus. Real rest comes when we trust in and celebrate the finished work of Jesus Christ, and follow Him.