As a busy mother of two and a physician, I have experienced profoundly busy seasons in my life when my plate was full of tasks and obligations. Busy led to chronic sleep deprivation, fatigue, and eventually burnout. As I picked up the pieces and reset my priorities, I learned how to prioritize REST as I realized how sleep impacted our health and wellness journey. As I prioritized REST, I learned how to stop struggling and start trusting.
My coaching and consulting practice has revolved around this message, helping busy moms and their children rediscover rest. I hope you will be blessed and helped as I share what God has placed in my heart about embracing and fully entering His rest.
What is Rest?
Miriam Webster defines rest as freedom from activity or labor OR a state of motionlessness or inactivity.
God, the creator of rest, has called us to follow His example. The Bible tells us that God rested on the seventh day after His work of creation. He worked on the details of creating the earth and rested after His hard work.
“On the seventh day, God finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2:2-3 NLT
What Happens When We Rest?
Energy is renewed and restored.
Jesus is our role model for rest. Although His earthly ministry was tasking, He took time and encouraged His disciples to rest. In Mark 6:31, we see that the day had been so busy that neither He nor His disciples had even gotten a bite to eat.
“Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” Mark 6:31 NLT
Jesus recognized their need for both rest and food. There were probably still crowds of people who needed healing. He still had messages to preach and lives to touch. However, He also realized that adequate rest was an important part of His mission as He went about His Father’s business. He encouraged the disciples to follow His example and get some much-needed quiet time. When we rest and replenish, we have the renewed energy to follow our calling without burnout.
We build a reserve for the journey ahead.
Elijah ran from Queen Jezebel. He was at a shallow point in his life. He was afraid, burnt out, and depressed, and he likely fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
“Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around, and beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” 1 Kings 19:5-7 NLT
During this time, the angel ministered to him, and he was able to renew his strength. We sometimes need to build on reserving energy for the journey ahead. You may anticipate a stressful season of life, travel, or other significant life changes. You must make rest a priority during this time.
We get out of our way and let God get to work.
Sometimes, our inability to rest comes from the fact that we are overburdened with the cares of this world. We are constantly worrying instead of trusting. As a result, we stay in fight/flight mode, which makes it hard to focus on what God is teaching us. When we rest or cease from our endless activities, we let go and let God.
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
We enjoy God’s special gift to us.
Rest is a gift from God. Many times, we see rest as a luxury and not His promise. He calls us to come boldly to His presence and receive the rest we need.
“Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].” Hebrews 4:16 AMPC
We are not coming to seek help from a mere human. We receive help from the God of the universe. When we come into His presence, we can embrace His grace. This grace shows up when we need it most. Imagine fully relying on His mercy and grace for areas where you have failed and fallen short. Being able to rely on Him rather than your limited ability. Full trust in Him allows us to rest. We can go to bed knowing He takes care of things on our behalf.
If our Father doesn’t sleep or slumber, we can be reassured that He will take care of things while we do.
“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat, for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalms 127:2 NLT
How Do We Receive God's Rest?
God gives rest, but it takes faith to receive it. It takes us embracing this beautiful gift rather than feeling like we must work for it. How do we enjoy God's rest on every side?
1. We follow His example by responding to His invitation.
We can learn from the source of rest Himself. Jesus saw that His mission on earth was so critical, yet He still needed to set time apart for rest. He welcomes us to do the same. We may feel like the world will stop moving when we rest, but it turns out life goes on!
“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways, and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, and easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.” Matthew 11:28-30 TPT
2: Engage in prayer.
Prayer is communicating with God. Just like Jesus found rest in an intimate relationship with the Father, learn to cast your cares and commit your worries into His hands, knowing He will take care of you.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.“ Hebrews 4:16 NLT
3: Receive God's Rest Through His Word.
We don’t just go into the Word religiously. We approach His Word to learn His will, to draw closer and hear from Him. His Word has authority over our circumstances. When you approach the Word, pray for a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and that you will encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45 NLT
4. Walk in gratitude.
Gratitude takes the focus off your circumstances and worries and helps you focus on God’s faithfulness.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good, and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 NIV
5. Be intentional About Entering God's Rest.
The devil will always try to steal your rest. It is up to us to be alert and aware of these peace stealers. Avoid negative company, and limit exposure to social media, news, and other content that can deprive you of peace.
Author and Pastor Mark Buchanan said, “The rest of God is not a reward for finishing. It’s not a bonus for work well done.” When we embrace rest, we realize that it’s not about getting more done but more about getting the right things done.
Remember, without God, no rest can be enjoyed. He is the source of everything that restores and replenishes. He gives us rest that lasts. We can fully trust in Him when we embrace His rest.
“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:11 NIV
-Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown, a sleep medicine physician and the founder of RestfulSleepMD,
is passionate about empowering women through her gift of encouragement. She is the founder of a blog called Radiate Brilliance, where she uses inspired reflections, revelations from the Word, and her own experiences to encourage women in all works of life. She is a frequent speaker nationally and internationally.