Something we talk about when we’re frazzled; in seasons of busyness and full-throttle forward-motion. Something we ascribe to monastics, to clerics, to desert-dwelling mothers and fathers of the faith. Something a bit lost in mainstream evangelicalism. For, no matter the circumstances, we are to wear ourselves out with service. Whatever trial we’re in, we either need to be serving our way through it; or teaching from it. There are great lesson of faith and perseverance tucked into our trials, to be sure. And each is a testament to God’s great and abiding love and faithfulness. Certainly, others who are walking a similar road can benefit from our experience, when told in the spirit of transparency, so that God may be glorified, even in the midst of the storm.Yet, in times of difficulty; times when the path you’re on is failing to rise to meet your feet, when you want the conductor of the rollercoaster of your days to stop it so you can recover your equilibrium, when the waiting has stretched you so thin that it feels like there is nothing of you left, in those times, are we supposed to try to serve and give? Or are we meant to rest and to be attended to?
In the second chapter of Job, we find that not only has he lost his fortune, his children, and his health, but his wife has basically abandoned him as well. [When a loved one’s advice is, “curse God and die,” I don’t think they’re emotionally or spiritually present with you anymore.] But Job doesn’t get up and start preaching to her, trying to show her the folly of her words. Instead, he sits. His friends come to visit him, knowing he needs support. But Job doesn’t jump up and play the host. They sit with him in his mourning; and he doesn’t move. He rests solely in the truth with which he had answered his wife, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” Job rests in the fact that no matter the situation, God is sovereign over all.In the twelfth chapter of 2 Samuel, we find David, confronted with his sin [stealing another man’s wife, having her husband killed, and then marrying the woman he seduced] by the prophet Nathan. David admits his sin, yet still his son is struck ill. David stops all activity, spending nights lying on the ground in sackcloth [remember, he’s the king] and pleading with God. His servants stand at the ready to help him to his feet. But David doesn’t move. Though he’s crying out for intervention, he is also resting in God’s sovereignty; knowing that the outcome of his situation is entirely in the Lord’s hands.
Neither men relent in their rest. They don’t eventually go back to work; they don’t preach from their pulpit of ash and misery. They wait. They cry out. They rest in the fact that God is in control. For one, things eventually turn out more joyously than they began; for the other, they ended with death. But the truth is that God is sovereign over both the happy and sad endings.
God is God.A friend recently illuminated that I was in such a season. But, I argued with her as I had already with God, I need to be doing something. I can’t just sit. Not with all that I’ve been given; not with all that’s at stake for so many. I have to do something. She smiled with gentle warmth and proffered, “Might this not be what you’re supposed to be doing right now? Learning to rest?”
It’s certainly not the rest of Sabbath; a joy-filled worship-full repose beside still waters. Yet, it is a rest from the daily busyness and rushing. It is restful for my spirit to spend more time in prayer, more time in the word, more time with God. So perhaps the waiting is the purpose, so that I [or David or Job or even you, dear one] may draw nearer to God. And that we might all rest in His sovereignty.