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4 Surprising Truths about Rest in the Bible

  • Rachel Dawson
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  • 2017 Jun 16
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If there’s one word I wish I could eliminate from the English language, it’s “hustle.” Everything about the idea of hustling rubs me the wrong way-- it seems incessant, unending, frantic, stressful, and all I can picture is a hamster running crazily on a wheel without really going anywhere. To me, rest is the opposite of hustle. When I think about rest, it seems peaceful, restorative, calm, and I picture an early morning by a still lake, still and quiet and beautiful.

I’m drawn to the idea of rest. I think as an introvert and as someone who tends to be sensitive and affected by her environments easily, I crave rest often, knowing I need to step back and slow down in order to recharge and connect with what truly matters. I know the Lord desires that we would be still in his presence and draw near to him in worship, and more and more, I see the richness and value of resting in Christ.

Matthew 11:28 is a famous verse about rest: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”

Couldn’t we all use a little bit of rest in our busy, fast-paced lives where we are more prone to hustle than we are to really take a breather?

The Bible talks about rest quite a bit.

Bonnie Gray recently wrote an article called “How Embracing Rest Can Change Your Life” for Relevant and she shares what she calls “8 surprising ah-ha moments about rest in the Bible” that I found fascinating.

Here are 4 of the truths she shares:

  1. “Rest is emotional honesty.” One of the things I love most about life as a Christ-follower is that Jesus never demands my perfection or my polished self-- he just desires my honesty and authenticity. I can come to him when I am weary, when I’m not feeling it, when I’m doubting or distracted or disinterested, and I can be real about all of my feelings and questions. When I rest at the feet of Jesus, I can be truly and completely honest with him and he will give me rest in return. What a gift that is.
  2. “Rest is a return to your true identity.” I love the quote that Gray shares from Brennan Manning: “Defined yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” Sometimes it takes stepping away from all of the other labels and roles and responsibilities to realize in rest who we truly are and who we are called to be-- children of a good and gracious Father. When we’re caught up in our work or our parenting or our volunteering and serving, we can lose sight of who we are at the core, and rest reminds us of that.
  3. “Rest is radical and countercultural.” The world is obsessed with hustle, especially here in America. We’re consumed by the idea of the American dream, feeling like we have to work hard all the time and climb ladders and make goals for our lives to matter, but rest goes against all of that. Rest says that it isn’t what we do or get done that matters, but who we are, and who God is. It can be hard to hear his voice if we are always surrounded by the noise. I remember my mom giving me the advice during a particularly stressful finals week in college to “get out of the fray and pray” and those words have stuck with me even years later. It might go against the current, but rest will restore our souls and make space for us to hear from the Lord more clearly.
  4. “Rest isn’t failure. Rest is spiritual intimacy.” I’ve often heard people say that they don’t feel like they can take time to rest, because it takes them away from what they feel like they need to be or should be doing. “Sometimes it takes greater faith and courage to admit we’re tired and we need to asses why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Gray writes. “God welcomes soul searching. He loves being with us on that intimate journey.”


We know that even if we love the hustle and love the work and responsibilities on our plates, we will burn out if we go nonstop. We know we need sleep, stillness, and slowness in our lives, but it still can be hard to carve out space for rest in the middle of all the busyness of life.

I love how Matthew 11 in The Message paraphrase of Scripture invites us into a radical, life-changing kind of rest:

“‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.’”

Let’s keep company with the Lord day by day, walking with him, doing our work with him, watching him as he shows us the best, healthiest, most beautiful ways of living. Let’s allow him to show us what true rest looks like as he showers us in his perfect grace and endless love. Let’s let go of the hustle for just a bit and remember that at our core, we are his beloved, and he wants to restore our souls.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Publication date: June 16, 2017

Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.