“Turn again to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has treated you well.” Psalms 116:6
Over and over in the Old Testament stories, the people of God kept forgetting that “God had treated them well.” Every time, this forgetfulness occurred, it led to a crisis of faith. And every time, the whole community would stop behaving like the people of God.
One of my favorite teachers talks a lot about how the life of a Christian should be spent “at rest.” I struggle with his use of this word because I see that there is so much work to be done dismantling unjust world systems that we ought to get busy. I also see a lot of people who go to church, but never really become the hands and feet of Jesus doing the work that God has prepare for them to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in practicing Sabbath, quiet meditation, contemplation, and all kinds of prayer that brings us into the stillness of God. However, this is not what I call rest. This is work too! Developing a relationship with God is work. Jesus used to get up early in the morning to go spend time with God. That is work! Listening is work. Sorting things out – discernment – is work.
So what is this thing that the psalmist calls “rest?” The hint in the verse is that it has to do with the soul. Even in the busiest and most awful of times, when our souls are shaken to their core, they can return to rest – worry free, quiet, and undisturbed in the presence of God. The key that the psalmist gives is to remember what God has done for you – that “God has treated you well!” And when we trust God, we can rest.
I ended a lesson about the Holy Spirit several years ago by asking if anyone had ever felt the comfort of the Spirit. An elderly woman raised her hand and told the story of the night her grown daughter was killed in an accident. She told of going to the hospital, then going to her daughter’s home to be with her grandchildren giving them the news that their mother wasn’t ever coming home again. She said that her soul rested in knowing God loved her and her daughter and her grandchildren. She was able to face the most horrible time of her life because she knew even in this unbearable pain that God would go on loving them. She said it was supernatural comfort for her soul to be able to rest at a time like this.
In times of difficulty, our souls may be shaken to the core, but they can return to rest as we remember God has (and will) treat us well.
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