We all go through seasons when being worn out mentally, and tired physically, is our default. Maybe it is a short-lived but intense struggle at work or at home; maybe it is an ongoing physical or emotional challenge that has changed life as we know it.
Whatever the circumstance, looking for rest in Christ is far more satisfying than finding unhealthy ways to cope. We can find how to rest in God’s perfect peace through these different ways of connecting with Him.
What does it mean to find rest in Christ?
There are many uses of the word rest in the Bible. 42 Hebrew or Greek words about rest are included in the original Bible manuscripts of the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus talks about importance of rest at the end of Matthew 11, with an invitation to find it in Him.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NASB1995
The rest in Christ mentioned here sounds inviting and satiating. How does God’s rest differ from the kind of rest we usually think of?
- The Believer’s Bible Commentary suggests that this type of rest in Christ “is a gift; it is unearned and unmerited.” It adds, “This is the rest of salvation that comes from realizing that Christ finished the work of redemption on Calvary’s cross.” We don’t have to strive for this rest, or earn it. It is a gift from Jesus.
- Physical rest is good; God made sure Elijah had a meal and a nap after running for his life! (1 Kings 19) But this rest in Christ in Matthew 11:28-30 has less to do with getting a good night’s sleep, and more with putting your heart at peace with God through the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the one who brings us the rest, who takes away the sin that separates us from God and puts us at peace with Him. When we have that perspective, our earthly problems don’t weigh as heavily on us.
- It is followed with an invitation to take on Christ’s yoke, instead of one of our own making. IVP New Testament Commentary suggests that, “They will find Jesus’ yoke light because he is a Master who will care for them (Mt 11:29).
Jesus’ yoke is not lighter because he demands less, but because he bears more of the load with us.” We still will have work to do, but it isn’t in order to earn our salvation or the right to rest. And we certainly don’t do it on our own.
Having this kind of perspective on rest in Christ helps build our trust in God. We have to trust Him to provide what we need, the energy to do the hard work He’s called us to do, and the wisdom to physically and mentally rest.
Follow the Lord’s example with Sabbath rest.
If you are struggling with taking that physical and mental Sabbath rest, remember this. In Genesis 2:2, on the seventh day God rested after six days of creation! He set this Sabbath day of rest as an example of resting on the seventh day of the week for us, and we need to follow it. Set aside at least one day each week for real rest.
Even the soil of the earth got a sabbath rest. Exodus 23:11 says,
“But the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In the same way, you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove.”
The nation of Israel was being told to not work the land in that seventh year, to help provide for the poor of the community. God did this for His own purposes, and it also benefited others.
We work to serve the Lord, and we rest to honor the Lord.
We are given the privilege as people of God of being part of God’s work, through loving others and serving them. But He doesn’t ultimately need us to accomplish the will of God. We see this illustrated in Judges 7:2 ESV.
“The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’”
The Lord whittled down the army to the point that no one could say that it was their own might that had saved them. It had to be God.
Should we serve the Lord? Of course! It is our honor to be part of sharing the hope found in Jesus Christ. It is a good way of showing our thankfulness to the Lord for His saving grace.
But our hard work isn’t what saves us. We deserve to be separated from God for eternity, but the good news is that He gives us a second chance through Jesus.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
We could never work hard enough to redeem ourselves. Do what the Lord has called you to do, and set aside times of rest in Christ to remind yourself that He will provide what is needed, even without you working constantly.
3 Practical Ways to Find Rest in Christ
So if we are seeking rest in Christ, how do we find it? These three helpful suggestions can help you in your pursuit of rest in Christ Jesus.
Find hope in God’s Word.
The following Bible verses point us to the peace of God we find in the presence of the Lord.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
John 15:4 NASB1995
While this doesn’t specifically address rest, it reminds us we need to abide – dwell, live in, or remain – in Christ. By dwelling in Christ, we don’t make our home in fear, the enormity of our circumstances, or the uncertainties of the future.
We can live in Him and He in us, and we will bear fruit. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 is peace, which is most remarkable during difficult circumstances. The Lord will provide it!
The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
Psalm 116:6-7 NASB1995
Our soul can be at rest in Christ because of how God has dealt with us. We have Jesus to make peace for us with God, and ultimately, our soul is at peace because of that.
“And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.”
Mark 4:39 NASB1995
Jesus had more than enough power to still the wind and waves – isn’t He more than capable of bringing peace to our hearts?
The more time we spend in God’s Word, meditating on it and praying through it, the more likely we are to see moments like this that remind us of His power and His perspective. This will help us find that rest in Christ.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3 ESV
Meditate on the Lord as your shepherd for a minute. It’s a reminder that we are in His charge, and that we aren’t in charge. He moves us along, but He gives us deeper rest in calm places of quiet waters, both literally and figuratively. The restoration He gives to our soul is the spiritual rest that we need.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 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 ESV
This is another reminder that without God, we labor in vain. We should do what we do for the Lord, seeking His wisdom and working within God’s will and purposes for us. We can count on Him to provide what we need, and don’t have to eat “the bread of anxious toil.”
Find peace in worshiping God through song.
What songs speak to your heart and remind you of the love of peace and God? Even if you don’t consider yourself a “worship kind of person,” this is a good exercise that is likely to encourage you.
As an experiment, I made a playlist on YouTube of several songs that encouraged me (including an old song from the Newsboys in the 90’s), and found my heart quieted more than I had expected. It took my mind off of my worries and put it where it belongs – on God!
Make a playlist of your own of worship songs that bring you peace and rest in Christ on whatever service you are most likely to use, such as YouTube, Spotify, or another service.
If you need help getting started or don’t want to make your own playlist, many of these music streaming services have worship stations you can try. If you would rather have a CD, this compilation Songs 4 Worship: Worship Classics looks like a good mix of what I’d call contemporary but not new Christian music. If you love hymns, you might enjoy Hymns From The Old Country Church.
Let others encourage you.
Sometimes, our weariness makes us feel alone and unsupported, carrying heavy burdens on our own. Our mental and/or physical workload is overwhelming and it doesn’t seem like we have the time or energy to spend time with God, other believers, or anything that might help us find rest in Christ. This is when we should reach out.
- Talk to others. Many times, people don’t notice because they are busy with their own struggles. But most people would be happy to encourage you and give you the perspective you need to give your problems over to God despite the challenges you face. Friends have a great way of reminding you that God’s grace is available to you, too!
- Talk to a Christian counselor. Sometimes, finding a trusted Christian counselor to talk to about this is necessary. In the past, this has carried a stigma for some, but it can be a part of being a healthy Christian. Asking for a recommendation from your pastor or a trusted Christian friend is a good first step.
As always, be discerning about taking the advice you receive from any source, comparing it to the truth of the Bible.
- Learn from others. Many books have been written on Christian rest. My pastor recommends Reset: Living a Grace Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray.
We can find encouragement in articles by Christian authors. I’m an Anxious Person – How Do I Find Rest in Christ? is available on John Piper’s “Desiring God” website. Author Dawn Klinge has some interesting insights in her article Finding Rest in God.
As we contemplate the ways that God will lead us to rest in Christ, consider this quote.
“But let’s understand that God does not dispense strength and encouragement like a druggist fills your prescription. The Lord doesn’t promise to give us something to take so that we can handle our weary moments. He promises us Himself. That is all. And that is enough.”
Chuck Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life
Jesus is enough! Let’s thank God today for that truth, and pray a prayer to rest in Him.
O Lord, As we pursue rest, we pray that we will seek the true rest found in You.
We pray that Your rest will satisfy our hearts and help us find joy in You.
We pray that this rest will help us persevere in You during these hard times.
Thank You for Your perfect rest. In Your Name, Amen.
If you found 3 Powerful Ways to find Lasting Rest in Christ helpful, please check out 10 Bible Verses on Walking with God: Our Christian Walk. You may also want to look at 9 Helpful Bible Verses for Comfort and Encouragement.