Core Questions: Why do we need rest?

Core Questions is a monthly dive into different topics that are a core part of our shared human experience. We want to seek and understand who we are in light of God’s revealed truth. This month we are looking at our human need for rest.

In the creation story, we see God speaking, creating, and then… resting. God does not need to rest, of course. He chose to rest. But He has created us as creatures that do need rest. We literally cannot survive without it, let alone thrive in our daily lives.

Many of us find ourselves feeling more tired after daylight savings ends, as the day closes into darkness so early and our bodies are longing for more sleep. Sleep is an important part of resting, but not the only type of rest.

But before we look at the question of how do we rest, it is helpful to explore the question of why.

Why do we need rest?

Researchers will point to the positive impact on your body when you rest. Your brain is able to move new information into long-term memory while you sleep. Your body restores itself as we relax our muscles, breathe deeply, and let our mind roam away from the tasks and worries of the day. These are good and true reasons why we need rest. Our bodies are restored and refreshed as we rest.  But humans are more than simply physical bodies; we are eternal souls. And our souls need rest also.

The psalms are filled with reminders that God is our rest. “Truly my soul finds rest in God,” the psalmist sings in Psalm 62, “my salvation comes from him.” In verses like these, the Scriptures point us to another reason why humans need rest… we need rest to remind us that we need God.

Why is rest so difficult for us?

It is easy for things to get in the way of our rest. Our schedules are busy. Technology makes us available 24/7. Our thoughts are distracted with worries, planning, and “what if” thinking. Often, rest is looked down upon in today’s society; it is for the weak or the lazy. Yet our Lord would say the opposite. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus promises his followers in Matthew 11:28. We find rest for our bodies and our souls in God’s presence. Maybe when we struggle to find rest, we’re trying too hard from our own strength and energy.