For the believer, a state of rest comes not from an emotional high or low. Rest is a quieting of the mind. In the midst of a pandemic, in uncertain times, when we aren’t certain about the world around us, can “rest” be found?
Christian, rest comes from knowing that your future is certain. Of course we do not “know the future,” like a fortune-teller claims to do. Instead, we look beyond our present situation, beyond the uncertainty of what the next few days, months, and years will hold, to eternity. That rest is a promise, a confidence, a contentedness, for today.
“Rest” can be a time or place of refuge or safety, shelter in the eye of a storm, in the midst of a hectic time, or at the end of a crazy day. A mental state—the ability to remain calm while everything else around you is a jumbled mess. Peace when you’ve lost a job or a family member. A quiet heart when you feel so alone.
What if you can’t attain that calm place of rest? Christian, I’ve been there too. The answer isn’t to do more or try harder, as Michael Horton calls the endless striving in his book Christless Christianity.
First, last, and always, go back to what you know to be true.
Christian, the one source of truth is the Gospel. It is found in God, through His Holy Spirit, and guaranteed by the Lord Jesus Christ. I–and all believers–need to remind ourselves of the Gospel every day. Here’s the Gospel—the truth and the promise:
“Remember that you were [once] separated from Christ, … having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace…. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (ESV Ephesians 2:12-22).
This is the promise for rest and peace, a peace that is soul-deep. More than I rely on myself, my family, my friends, I trust the promises of God: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 81:8).
Remember the promises of God to help you in the midst of trouble, when you’re not sure who your friends are, why you are so sick, things are going so badly, or when it will all end. Remember how Psalm 27 opens, written by someone who had seen his fair share of turmoil:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who will stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident ” (Psalm 27:1-3).
Do not fear. Remember Who is greater than all your troubles. Rest.