Laboring To Rest

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Have you ever had one of those nights when you thought you were tired but couldn’t get to sleep because your mind was really active? Or you woke up in the middle of the night but couldn’t get back to sleep because you thought of one thing after another? Although the application is entirely different, the words of Hebrews 4:11 sound applicable, “let us therefore strive to enter that rest…”

Hebrews 4:11 (ESV) — 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

There is a plethora of studies that show the need for sleep and the benefits of getting a good night of sleep, yet a common complaint among the young and the old is how tired everyone is and how they long for good rest. Perhaps the words from the book of Ecclesiastes would apply to our society that seems to value comfort and ease over anything that would be least considered hard work or labor.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

So maybe our lack of rest is because we focus on the “easy life,” and take advantage of all the gadgets and devices that make life easier. Whereas, working hard physically will help us get a good night of rest, so does a labor or striving to do what is necessary helps us get proper rest. Things like going to bed at a decent hour, turning off devices long enough to calm our minds, proper hygiene, room temperature, keeping out light, etc. help to assure proper physical rest.

On the spiritual side, the words of Hebrews 4:11 teach us that entering into the rest that God promises, takes effort – not to earn it, but to submit to find it.

Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV) — 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When Jesus, by the working of the Holy Spirit in your heart calls you to “come,” you will find the promised rest when you respond, when you apply yourself to walking along beside Him, yoked together if you please, and apply yourself to learning from Him. Naturally speaking, a person would not even care about coming to Christ, walking along beside Him, nor learning from Him but those who are laboring under the heavy load of trying to find a way to please God because inside they know they need to please Him, then the Gospel message of the finished work of Christ in reconciling us to God by His work, brings us joy in knowing there is a promised rest. So why don’t we find that promised rest? Because we actually work at things that will not satisfy that longing which is like the way we work at staying up late trying to pack in all we can in a day and wonder why we can’t sleep at night.

Isaiah 55:1–2 (ESV) — 1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

What should we do?  Simply stop and assess your situation. Like the need for physical sleep and rest if not satisfied will run us into the ground, so the need for spiritual rest will likewise rob us of our joy in the Lord. The answer is found in striving or doing whatever it takes to come to Him, to walk with Him, and to learn from Him. The result is rest for your soul. Wouldn’t that be a delight?


Bob Brubaker


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