What Gives You Rest?
When you feel tired, what do you do? Sometimes, just taking a nap or sleeping in a little does the trick. But there are fatigues for which physical relaxation is not enough—the ones that are due to psychological stresses.
There is no shortage of them: the ever-growing competition for good schools and well-paying jobs, peer pressure, financial obligations, etc. Maybe you struggle with your parents’ high expectations for your success, academic or otherwise. How about the pressure you put on yourself? Are you weary of trying to meet your own expectations for yourself and not meeting them? We all know that our mental stress makes our physical fatigue far worse.
When and how will you be able to rest from these stresses? You can try to get away from the stressful environment and recharge yourself. But what good is it to get away to a nice tropical island if your mind is not able to relax? If the problem resides in your soul, simply getting away won't help. What can bring rest to your soul?
You can try to grit your teeth and bear these burdens and manage to achieve your goals in life. Will you then have true rest? As someone observed, all our problems in life arise from trying to get what we don’t have and trying to keep what we already have. Even if you were to “arrive,” wouldn't you still have to work hard to stay at the top? “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble…” (Psalm 90:10).
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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” (Matthew 11:28-29). With these words, Jesus invites you to Himself and promises to give you true rest. “No one knows what a smile can conceal but (He) understands what a young heart feels....”
How is Jesus qualified to give you true rest? Because He alone can address the real cause of the restlessness of our soul. He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal…. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19, 21). When our hopes and affections are set on perishable things or on people, we can't help but be anxious and fear lest we lose them! Having more won't help since they are also subject to the law of ever-diminishing returns. We need something that is not subject to loss, decay, or the law of ever-diminishing returns. Who or what meets these qualifications?
But we have not mentioned the biggest cause of our restlessness: our guilty conscience. Think of Lady Macbeth. Her guilty conscience drove her mad even though she became a queen as she desired, desired enough to murder King Duncan. Rationalizing away our guilty feelings is not so easy. Some of us may be able to do that, but our guilt before God remains: a holy God is to a guilty conscience what the heat of the sun is to a worm.
This is why Jesus the Son of God had to come into the world—in order to give us true rest by reconciling us to God. To that end, Jesus took our place before the judgment seat of God and bore our punishment with His death on the cross. And by His resurrection from the dead, He is able to give us true and eternal rest—from the bitterness of suffering, from the sting of death, and from the fear of judgment. This true rest can be yours even now if you accept what Jesus has done for you and submit to Him as your Savior and Lord. It's as simple as that because Jesus did all the work for you, because God paid the costly price of sacrificing His Son. Our greatest desire is that you come to Christ and find this true and eternal rest in Him.