A woman approached me after a talk I’d given. She was embarrassed to tell me her story. She’d always wanted a daughter. Instead, she had four sons. She loved her boys. But, if God loved her, why had He allowed her to want a girl and then given her only boys? Since she really loved her sons, why couldn’t she let go of her disappointment? Her questions tormented her.
Can you relate to this woman? It’s normal for doubts and fears to drop in. But how do we get persistent ones to leave? How do we find rest for our souls while our questions lay unanswered?
Here’s the paradox of rest. Rest takes effort. We must fight for it.
Listen to Hebrews 4:10-11 (NIV), “10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest” (Emphasis added).
Stop working, and make every effort—a true paradox. Let’s break it down.
There are two kinds of work: work driven from our fallen human natures and work prompted by the Holy Spirit. The following two steps lead us into God’s rest.
1st Step: Stop our works.
Here are some examples of the works we must end:
- Striving to change people
- Working to please people
- Scheming to solve our problems
- Striving to insulate ourselves from pain
- Trying to prove we’re right and the other person is wrong
- Trying to control the future
- Living in regret
- Carrying guilt and shame
- Needing to understand why
- Feeling responsible
These works rob our rest and negate faith in God. These are the works of unbelief.
2nd Step: Start the works of God.
In John 6:28-29 (NASB) some people came to Jesus: “28 They said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’ ”
The work of rest is faith in Jesus. We make every effort to trust Him. Let me show you how this might look.
When a disturbing thought assails you: 1. Stop your works. Stop listening to the negative thoughts. 2. Start trusting Christ. Focus on Him and His promises. Below are some examples of actions to (1) stop and (2) start:
- 1. I could never handle it if….
2. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:17). Christ has promised to never leave me (Hebrews 13:5).
- 1. I must figure out how to keep that from happening.
2. Jesus invites me to cast all my cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7). Lord, please turn this into something more wonderful than I can imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
- 1. I want to control my circumstances and other people to protect myself.
2. I chose to take shelter under Your wings and trust You to shield, strengthen, and sustain me (Psalm 91).
- 1. I’ve tried to quit smoking, quit overeating, stop being impatient, but I can’t.
2. I invite Your Holy Spirit to do what I can’t (Galatians 5:16, 22-23). I will rest in You.
In short, stop worrying, whining, and fretting over circumstances. Start praying, praising, and trusting Christ.
This takes effort. But we don’t fight this battle alone. Our High Priest stands ready to help. What work must you stop in order to experience God’s rest? What promise must you start believing?
Question: I’d love to hear a verse or thought that quiets your unrest. I’ll get us started in the comments with one of my favorites. Click here to comment.
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