My friends are railing about politics on Facebook again.
I'm exhausted. My social media feeds brim with news of violence, incivility, and decidedly un-neighborly behavior with no end in sight. And that's just in the United States. Does it feel the same for you?
Take a deep breath with me. Let's take a pause from the world's noise and rest in God, so that whatever the day brings, we will not be unsettled.
Resting in God
Resting in God simply means making space between your tasks to listen to God, to focus on God's words.
The Bible shows many instances where rest is a good and necessary thing. In fact, in the Old Testament, commandments regarding the practice of rest are central to God's covenant with Israel. In the Ten Commandments, God instructs Israel to rest on the seventh day because God rested after the creation of the world (Exodus 20:8-11). God also commanded the Israelites to let their land rest every seven years, and in the Year of Jubilee, promising divine provision for their obedience (Leviticus 25:1-7).
The refrain of rest gets repeated in the New Testament, as well. By the time Jesus began his earthly ministry, people had made the Sabbath command a burden rather than a gift. They created complex rules regarding its practice.
In Matthew, Jesus reorients them. He tells us that in this life we should "[t]ake my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest" (Matthew 11:29 GNT). In farming cultures, yokes are used to pair animals so that they can work together. They are often heavy. In this context, Jesus's yoke makes our burden lighter. It is a sign of authority, but also of his gentle guidance, and a promise of rest if we place ourselves in God's care.
How Can I Rest?
But how to rest when we see all the trouble in the world around us? When we're burdened by the workweek's stress and exhaustion? David and the other psalmists often write of resting in the Lord. And David certainly faced his share of pain and exhaustion! In David's earlier life, he was on the run from King Saul. Later he had to flee from his son, who sought to kill him and take his throne. Meanwhile, David's kingdom was continually under threat from other nations. Even back then politics were a circus!
But David gave his troubles to God and trusted.
"I call to the Lord for help, and from his sacred hill he answers me. I lie down and sleep, and all night long the LORD protects me. I am not afraid of the thousands of enemies who surround me on every side" (Psalm 3:4-6).
I might not have a thousand enemies on every side, but I often have a thousand anxious thoughts that pick at me, especially at night. So if I choose to call on God for help, resting in God's Word, I can have peace and know that God cares for me. It's not as easy as it sounds, but acknowledging God's sovereignty, that is, God's reign over my life and its circumstances, helps keep my anxiety in check. Up to his last prayer, David acknowledged God's sovereignty and it led to thanks and praise (1 Chronicles 29:10-12). He was even able to let go and leave some critical tasks unfinished for his son to complete.
We, too, can acknowledge God's sovereignty and rest in God, even in the way we approach social media. One way could be making mini-Sabbaths: turning off notifications at a certain point in the day, or not checking social media on Sundays. Don't make this a new burden! With time these practices can become actions that come from the heart.
And we must not forget that "every good gift comes from God" (James 1:17). Social media can be redeemed. You can be a person of peace in your posts and tweets. You can post things that are lovely, uplifting, and encouraging (Philippians 4:8), giving your friends and followers a breather in an otherwise clamorous digital scene.
Another one of the ways I rest is by reading my Bible and journaling my prayers before I go to bed. I'm not a morning person, and one of the quickest ways to quench my anxiety after a long day is to simply sit in my bed with my journal and after some silence, talk with God through writing. It's like a peaceful conversation before I go to sleep.
Whether it's friends and relatives bickering on Facebook, or events in our everyday life causing us concern, we can find rest in God. God's Word stands, and ten thousand social media arguments can't drown out God's peace.
Want some help in cultivating rest?
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