The Center for Disease Control and Prevention posted an article on their website entitled, “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic,” which documented research from the past decade on sleep-related behaviors. According to their research, thirty percent of adults report getting an average of less than or equal to six hours of sleep per night when they actually need at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night. In other words, many people fail to get the rest they need even though it is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. More importantly, many Christians fail to recognize that rest is an expectation of God.
God recognized mankind’s need for rest. He knew that we need rest to function at our best and to recover from fatigue. Remember, God’s the one that designed the human body; therefore, He knew it was going to get tired and need an avenue through which it could recharge. As a result, our God, who knows what we need even before we ask (Matthew 6:8), demonstrated a concern for our rest throughout Scripture.
Go back to the Old Testament and you will discover that God provided instructions to the Israelites which demanded a time for rest. Under Mosaic Law, God instituted the weekly Sabbath Day to be a day of rest so that workers could recover from their toil. This day of rest was so important to God that He protected it by establishing the death penalty as the consequence for failure to observe it (Exodus 21:12-17). Though we are not required to observe the Sabbath Day as they did under Mosaic Law we would be wise to recognize that God was legislating a day of rest to ensure that His people made time for recuperation. If rest was so important to him that it made it into His top ten commands then shouldn’t it still be important to us?
Ultimately, rest is means of trusting God. It It is a reminder that the Lord is in control, and, therefore, everything will be okay without our involvement since He is involved. David realized this. When he was fleeing from his son Absalom, who was trying to usurp the throne, he wrote, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me” (Psalm 3:5). In another psalm he wrote, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8). David is also famous for identifying the Lord as the one who “makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). In these passages King David demonstrated trust in God through rest.
Solomon, who is arguably the wisest man other than Jesus to ever walk this earth, said, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). In other words, Solomon indicated that rest is a gift from God. In fact, Jesus is the One who invited us to rest when He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Today, let us recognize that rest is not a bad activity because it prevents us from accomplishing something. Instead, rest is essential because it allows us to function at our best, and shouldn’t we be prepared to offer God our best on a daily basis?