No one is immune to strain of long-term stress. The spiritual disciplines of rest and solitude are vital for renewing our strength and perspective. We love the idea of Jesus restoring our soul but often struggle to figure out how to get there. Psalm 23 reminds us that we can trust Jesus to help us rest in a way that restores our soul.
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “When it rains, it pours.” Maybe you’ve said something like that yourself. When hard times come one after another, the strain of long-term stress leaves us depleted.
Jesus understood that life holds many troubles that rob us of peace and well-being. Shortly before His arrest, He said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”—John 16:33 NLT
It’s important to see that Jesus did not promise to take away every problem or solve every issue. Instead, He offers peace as well as the knowledge that He has overcome.
The distance between knowledge and experience is the deeper journey of faith. Though we love the idea of Jesus restoring our soul, we often struggle to feel rested and renewed.
Common Sources of Cumulative Stress
Many circumstances in life can create cumulative stress. Consider the following stressors that are common. How many of these have you experienced recently? (Not listed in any particular order).
- Death of a loved one
- Health issues
- Chronic pain
- Marriage issues
- Relational conflict
- Parenting challenges
- Caring for aging parents
- Difficult co-workers or bosses
- Financial challenges
- Job changes
- Big projects at work or home
- School work
- Struggles with anxiety or depression
- Unmet expectations
- Over-loaded schedules
Each challenge is taxing, but when we experience several stressors, the impact multiplies.
False Beliefs About Rest
Rest and solitude are spiritual disciplines that we often resist. This is a problem that has been around since the early days of the earth. At creation, God demonstrated the rhythm of rest and work.
The command to keep the Sabbath (a weekly day of rest to worship God) appears 172 times in the Bible. We humans refuse or neglect rest on a regular basis. Have you ever held one of these false beliefs about seeking rest in a meaningful way?
- I don’t deserve to rest until I finish my work.
- To rest before while there is work to be done is foolish or lazy.
- If I stop to rest, my work will never be finished.
- I’ll feel better tomorrow.
- I don’t really need to rest.
- I’ll rest when I retire.
Or the one that small children often gripe, “Naps are for babies!”
These false beliefs place all the responsibility on us to hold everything together.
To rest is to trust that the world won’t fall apart without our effort. In solitude and rest, God reminds us that it is not all about us and we are not alone.
Managing stress and making time to refresh our souls is vital to healthy living. Click To Tweet
What false beliefs or fears make it hard for you to rest?
Trusting Jesus to Show Us How to Rest
Most people agree that long term stress isn’t a good thing. That’s pretty much a no brainer. Unmanaged stress can have negative consequences on our health.In my last post I wrote about the importance of recognizing signs of exhaustion.
But we struggle is finding workable solutions to rest. This was my thought process when God impressed on me the need to take time to rest.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. To be honest, giving myself permission to step back felt like skipping school.
I needed more than sleep but wasn’t exactly sure how to recover my equilibrium. While reflecting on Psalm 23:1-3, Jesus reminded me that He is my good shepherd. He knows what I need and how to go about it:
“The Lord is my shepherd,
I will not be in need.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For the sake of His name.”
Isn’t it interesting to note the contrast between our culture of chronic busyness and the soul-restoring benefit of quiet stillness?
How to Get the Rest You Need
Cultivate sustainable rhythms of rest to get the rest your soul longs for. Recover your rest by building small habits to decrease stress and empower you to rest body, soul, and spirit. Don’t miss the free printable Habits of Rest ebook to help you create rhythms of rest in your life.
What Does Psalm 23 Teach Us About Rest?
What can we discover about solitude and rest in these verses?
- Recognize the truth that we can trust Jesus to be our shepherd.
- Believe that Jesus can and will provide what we need.
- “Lying down” points to our need for physical rest from activity, effort, and work.
- Jesus can show us how to find spiritual nourishment we need, even when the “grass” is sparse.
- Quiet waters evoke peace, safety, and relief from thirst.
- These are important ways that Jesus restores our soul.
- His guidance shows us the best way to live and the right choices to make.
In this passage the action is on the Lord’s part: He makes, leads, restores, and guides.
If the work is on Him, what is our role?
That’s an important question, isn’t it?
We need to “just be” sheep:
- Just allow ourselves to be guided.
- Just be willing to let ourselves rest.
- Just commit to follow His lead.
I know this doesn’t sound very exciting. But when our soul is weary, it’s just what we need.
Our role is to show up and trust Jesus to provide for our needs. For many of us it is hard to let go of control and our compulsive ways of trying to make things happen. Can you relate to this challenge?
The Process of Solitude for Spiritual Rest
Do you need to come away from the chaos into the quiet so you can just be. . .with Jesus?
I have spent much time in prayer, silence, and meditation in the past few months. Coming away has given me more time to listen to Jesus. I am following His lead. He shows me what my soul needs to grieve as I process many emotions and questions.
Spiritual rest happens as we sit with our fears, questions, confusion, and emotions in the presence of Jesus. As we let go of guilt or shame, we begin to release our compulsion to fix ourselves and our circumstances.
Our frayed nerves and churning emotions begin to relax and heal.
In solitude we work through our wrestling with God for things to be different. Click To Tweet
In this sacred space, Jesus helps us accept life as it is, reminding us that He is always present.
Our striving souls rest when we embrace the truth God’s grace is always in play, even on our worst days.
For me, rest includes releasing my right to know, to understand why things happened the way they did. Solitude provides time to release my tears and receive comfort.
What Restoration Looks Like for Me in This Season
Restoring my soul has not been all Bible reading and other spiritual stuff.
Beyond the spiritual, restoring my soul includes making time for things I enjoy.
- Catching up with friends is refreshing.
- Celebrating the engagement of two of my children reminds me that joy is an important part of life.
- Focusing on nutrition and exercise is physically rejuvenating.
- Taking time to get my house organized relieves the stress of excessive clutter.
As I let Jesus direct my paths in this season, rest is sometimes active and sometimes not.
I continued my day job teaching water fitness at several local recreation centers, but I have taken a break from writing.
I relinquished demanding ministry work, taking a smaller role. Stepping away from social media for a while has given me space to settle and recharge.
Rest and recovery from long-term stress does not require everything to stop, but it is helpful if we can lighten our load for a period of time. Click To Tweet
As Jesus restores my soul, it has been good to just be…
- just be a sister, grieving the loss of one who left too soon
- just be a disciple, beloved by Jesus
- just be a wife who loves her man
- just be a mom and a friend to my adult children
- just be a neighbor, in person and more present
- just be a reader rather than a writer.
- just be a homemaker, restoring order to my physical environment
Let me know if this resonates with you. Do you need rest that is so much more than “catching up” on sleep? Do you long for time with Jesus to restore your soul?
If so, what is stopping you?
What would it feel like to simply bring these things to Jesus and listen to what He has to say? Could you trust Him to help you find time and space to restore your soul with solitude and rest?
A Prayer to Restore My Soul
If you need a little inspiration, use the prayer below to get started. In my journal, I wrote a prayer for rest that I hope will inspire you as well:
Restore my soul, Lord.
I’m weary from stressful emotional and physical overload. Burdens weigh heavy on my heart, shifting to landscape of my soul. I feel the toll of stress that saps my strength.
I can’t fix myself and many circumstances I cannot change. I depend on Your help to recover and rest. Lead me to still waters, the Living Water of Your Spirit that accomplishes what I cannot do for myself.
Help me to release internal pressure that makes me uncomfortable about taking time for physical and spiritual rest.
You understand what I need right now. Please provide respite to refresh my energy. Help me to not just catch up, but to fill up with everything my soul needs.
You know the best way to renew my mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Inspire me with simple ideas for rest. Show me how to create space in my schedule.
Fill the gaps that I can’t cover right now. I release my concerns to Your loving care.
You are the
still water for my weary soul.
Thank you, Jesus.
If you would like a printable version of this prayer, click here.
Would you share this post with someone who is weary from a stressful season? This may be just the encouragement they need.
Grab this Checklist for More Habits of Rest
Experience the benefit of building small habits to decrease stress and empower you to rest body, soul, and spirit. After all, rest includes so much more than sleep. Don’t miss this practical ebook, Habits of Rest Checklist to help you make your personalized plan to get the rest you need.
Overcome the Things that Hold You Back
A powerful encouragement for anyone who struggles to overcome anxiety, perfectionism, insecurity, or other mindsets that hold us back. Grow in holiness without the pressure to have everything “just right.” Through gentle encouragement, biblical insights, and applicable ideas you can experience a deeper life of freedom in Christ. Transparently sharing my own struggles, I want to help you live from the reality of hope, healing, and holiness.
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate link at no cost to you. Any books I recommend are resources I value and want to share.
Related Posts on Rest and Soul Care
- How Rest and Solitude Restore Your Soul After Stress and Loss
- 15 Habits of Rest to Improve Your Life
- What is Spiritual Rest and Why Do We Need It?
- Is Your Soul Out of Sync?
- Abide, Surrender, and Rest: Book Discussion Week 2
- Does Your Soul Talk Strengthen Your Faith?
- 10 Bible Verses for a Healthy Soul
- How to Care for Your Soul: Best Tips from 13 Christian Bloggers
I felt like the stress and “have to’s” were melting away as I read your article. Thank you for pointing us toward Jesus and His rest and the reminder that it is ok, even GOOD, to “just be”. SOOO counter cultural, even within the church. It is so hard to shake the world’s messages!
How do you type a huge sigh of RELIEF without emojis? <3
Hey there Catherine,
I’m so glad that you resonated with this post. True rest is counter cultural these days. Your on target to note that even in the church we struggle with this. Breathing a sigh of relief alongside you today:).