What is the meaning of spiritual rest and why is finding rest for our soul important? Spiritual rest is easy to overlook until we face the burnout of mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion. Worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, bitterness, unforgiveness, and stress burden our souls. Different from self-care, soul care restores our spirit, empowering us to experience peace and perseverance when we face challenges.
What Does it Mean to Rest in Jesus When You are Weary?
The alarm buzzes me awake long before I’m ready to rise. Getting out of bed, I do a Zombie walk to the bathroom.
Feeling behind before I begin, a mental to-do list moves through the Rolodex in my head as I brush my teeth. Before I’ve gotten dressed, I worry about a family member’s health, a friend’s grief, and meeting a big goal at work. “Where is the line between concern, worry, and faith?” I ask the Lord as I finish getting ready for the day. The weight of worry makes me feel heavy and tired.
How about you? Do you need spiritual rest? Do you need to find ways to lighten the load of worries and concerns?
We all need times of rest. A rest routine--is needed to keep body, soul, and spirit healthy and happy. #spiritualrest #soulrest Click To Tweet
Spiritual Rest Versus Self Care
Practicing spiritual rest, or soul rest, helps us bear the weight of life’s challenges. For me, emotional and mental weariness is harder to overcome than physical tiredness. When I’m weary, I often default to self-care rather than making time for soul care.
Have you considered the difference between soul rest and self-care? These two concepts often overlap. When we need rest, we tend to think about self-care or even self-comfort solutions. Self care has to do with caring for our physical, mental, and emotional needs. Soul care happens when we trust Christ with our needs, relying on his presence and help to sustain us. Here’s a few self-care things I gravitate to:
- “I need to get more sleep.”
- “If I eat healthier I’ll have more energy.”
- “Lunch with the girls is what I need.”
- “I can’t wait to chill out and watch my show on Netflix.”
It’s easy to binge-watch a show to fix our exhaustion. Though I enjoy watching a good show, it doesn’t solve the problem of needing rest for my soul. It’s easy to escape our challenges by vegging out in front of the TV or scrolling social media. The uncertainty of world events, political shifts, racial strife, and working from home creates weariness from the stress of extended loss and change.
Escaping from problems or distracting ourselves
isn’t self-care or soul care.
Self-care is necessary and important, but it doesn’t always meet the need of soul care. The burdens of life can overwhelm, making us anxious, frustrated, discouraged or depressed (to name a few). Soul care brings mental, emotional, and spiritual rest, which is different from physical rest.
What Does the Bible Say about Spiritual Rest?
The Bible has a lot to say about rest. In fact, the Bible mentions rest 548 times. One of my favorite passages is Matthew 11:28-30. Offering an invitation to experience soul rest, Jesus, our God with skin on, understands both the physical and the soul need for rest.
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, 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 comfortable, and My burden is light. (NASB)
Have you wondered what it means to be yoked with Jesus?
This isn’t the kind of language we use in modern culture. The idea of a yoke may seem unfamiliar and unrelated to your life. Oftentimes we approach this verse as finding relief from our burdens. Jesus invites us to something much deeper than feeling better; he wants to teach us to live better.
To live and to work connected to Jesus is the way of a restored soul. Click To Tweet
Spiritual rest is the rest of faith, the ability to remain connected to Christ as we live and work with Him.
Here’s a little nugget from the “Moments to Rest “chapter in my book, Holy in the Moment.
Jesus offers to help us carry the burdens of life in this vivid illustration. This passage is about more than simply giving Christ the struggles and challenges that weigh heavy on our hearts.
Three Actions of Spiritual Rest
To drill down to the core message of Matthew 11:28-30, we find these three actions:
- Come to Jesus.
- Take His yoke.
- Learn from Jesus.
This way of living is not a quick-fix solution to our troubles. Jesus invites us into a life of companionship where we walk and work with him moment by moment.
We find spiritual rest when we remember his presence and rely on his resources. Staying yoked enables us to be present with Christ. In the moment, we make choices to trust his experience, provision and leadership. Every choice to believe, abide, surrender, and trust creates moments of soul rest from the burdens of strife, worry, comparison, frustration, and so many other mental and emotional challenges.
We all have a variety of responsibilities that we carry in this life. How we carry them makes the difference between thriving in life versus feeling driven and overwhelmed. Staying connected to Christ also relieves us of feeling alone in our burdens.
Learning from Jesus Helps Us Experience Rest
One day I was having my quiet time, listening and meditating on this very same passage. The Lord dropped a question in my mind, “Who’s yoke are you carrying?” In this moment, Jesus taught me something important. This simple question relieved the emotional weariness I felt.
It was an aha moment of clarity. I was weary and discouraged by trying to carry the burden of things that really weren’t mine to carry. I realized I was carrying the burden of outcomes beyond my control.
I needed to trust Jesus because he is able to bear the responsibility of the outcomes. Have you ever found yourself taking responsibility for something that’s not yours to carry? This can be, a particular temptation for wives and moms when the lines between our responsibility and the decisions of others blur.
For example, we teach our children values, but we cannot make them embrace those truths. We can teach them what is right, but they make their own decisions about what they do and what they believe.
The old saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” gets at the futility of carrying the burden of results beyond our control.
Identify the Burdens that Weary Your Soul
That morning I did a soul check: what are the things that aren’t mine to carry that I need to entrust the Lord? This is a great exercise. What burdens do you carry? Are you carrying them with Christ or trying to shoulder them on your own? Are they burdens that really aren’t yours to carry?
Depending on Christ involves trusting him with the work, process, and outcome. It is the choice to trusting him with the moment, even when the moment looks pretty messy. It was amazing how recognizing what I was was doing restored my soul. I sighed with relief as I released my concerns to Christ.
I appreciate the way that Eugene Peterson has expressed Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, get away with me and you’ll recover your life.” Soul rest has to do with recovering life and vitality that only comes through Christ. (In my last blog post you’ll find a downloadable list of verses on the resurrection life we have in Christ).
Peterson expresses some of the nuances of soul rest. Invite the Lord with a simple prayer, “Lord, I rely on you in this moment to give me wisdom and help I need.”
And it’s that quick friends, the shift of our attention to rest in the Lord and to release our burden to the Lord. This is one way of living in the “unforced rhythms of grace.” Soul rest happens as we depend on Jesus to help, teach, and guide–walking and working, together.
Practical Ways to Find Rest for Your Soul
There are many ways to experience spiritual rest. Consider a few that have been most helpful to me:
- Ask God to examine your heart and then confess any sin that he reveals. Keep a short account with God, responding when the Holy Spirit convicts us sin.
- Trust God with the people you care about. Can I get an amen on this one? Many of the things that burden my soul involve worrying about the people I care about. Bearing the weight of how it turns out for someone else creates a lot of stress. I need to trust the Lord with my loved ones because God is faithful and working in their life. How much of our weariness comes down to the fact that we’re not trusting God?
- Discover the freedom of forgiveness. Harboring offenses is one of the heaviest burdens we can carry. Forgiveness turns the situation and the offender over to God to deal with. When we forgive, we actually lighten our own load, taking care of our own soul. In our hurt, we may view forgiveness as letting somebody off the hook, a way of inferring that what they did was okay. Friend, that’s not biblical forgiveness. Biblical forgiveness acknowledges the sin, charges the debt, states what it cost. This process prepares us to pray, “I trust you with this person and situation. I choose to forgive them because you have forgiven me.”
- Pray when you feel weary and burdened. “Lord, what do you want me to know about this burden? Is there something that you want me to see, something you want me to understand about this? Help me to turn this problem over to you. Show me how to pray about this problem.” Sometimes that’s where we need to begin. When we’re not quite sure how to turn something over to the Lord, ask for his help.
- Rest the outcome of your efforts and God’s capable hands and release the stress of performance. Give God the outcome of your effort. He can relieve us of the weight of worry because God didn’t intend for us to face our problems alone.
Trust doesn’t mean that Jesus will give you the perfect answer in the moment or solve your problems in a snap. It does mean that he’s with you in the moment and you’re working together, yoked together. Spiritual rest comes as we depend on Christ. Letting go of the weight of worry, you can trust him with the outcome, even if the outcome isn’t the one that you envisioned. What helps you find rest for your soul?
Related Content on Spiritual Rest and Soul Care