|*May 8 - 14
Rest and Restoration
Read for This Week's Study:
|Gen. 2:15; Exod. 20:8-11; 23:12; Matt. 11:28-30; Mark 2:27; 6:30-32.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’ ” (Mark 6:31, NIV).
|A bright, young medical student
at Loma Linda found himself burning out. Getting up at four in the
morning, working until midnight, he struggled to keep up with his
strenuous curriculum, but to no avail. He fell farther and farther
“In desperation he went to his professor for help. Being an astute man, the professor recommended that Tom get at least seven hours of sleep each night, no matter what, and thirty minutes of vigorous exercise everyday. Tom was incredulous, . . . but at last he reluctantly agreed to give this program a try. After all he was so far down he had nothing to lose. To his utter amazement his grades began to improve within just two weeks. By the end of the year he was in the upper third of his class and in due time successfully completed his medical training.”—“I’m So Tired,” Hardinge Lifestyle Series (Loma Linda, Calif. Loma Linda University School of Health, 1988), pp. 3-5.
Many of us are just like Tom. We all need to have daily rest, as well as weekly rest in order to achieve optimum health physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May 15.
Many of us live in a very tense and fast-paced environment filled with so many things to do and so little time to do them. Mother Teresa said: “I think today the world is upside down, and is suffering so much because there is very little love in the home, and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other. There is no time to enjoy each other.”
In some cultures, the drive to “get ahead,” to make money, to be a “success,” dominates everything to the point where marriage, families, and even health are sacrificed.
Of course, working hard, doing one’s best, and striving to provide for oneself and one’s family are good; the Bible has little time for slackers (Prov. 6:9, 13:4, 2 Thess. 3:10). We can, however, take a good thing too far, and as a result we and the ones we love and care about suffer. So often we hear about a father who works all the time, arguing that he is doing it “for his family,” when in the end, it is the family who is being hurt by the father’s continued and excessive absence.
Read Genesis 2:15. What does it say about God’s intention for humanity regarding work, even before sin?
From the beginning, even in the pre-Fall world, God’s intention was for humans to work. And to rest from work, as well. Especially now, as fallen beings thousands of years removed from the tree of life, we must remember that our bodies have limitations, and, therefore, resting is vitally important.
Read Mark 6:30–32, 45–46. What do these texts say to us about the need for rest, regardless of what we are doing and how important our work might be?
Jesus and His disciples took time to rest. He knew that His body needed time to be refreshed. We, too, need time for daily rest. Persistent cheating on our sleep produces, in time, physical and emotional loss. No matter how young, how healthy, how strong, our bodies need rest, and sooner or later an intemperate lifestyle will catch up to us.
|What things drive you? What things motivate you? What things cause you to work the hardest? Whatever they are, however noble and good they might be, you need to ask yourself if they are worth ruining you health over.
The Need of Rest
All of us are aware of the need to rest. We need food, we need water, and we need rest. So often our bodies themselves give us the signal that it is time to rest, and so often the signals are loud and clear. Much of the time, if we would listen to what our bodies tell us, we would get enough rest. Unfortunately, we so often are caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, of earning money, of running here and there, that we don’t listen to our own flesh. How many folk—struck down by sickness—have finally been forced to rest, and for a long time, too, who otherwise would have been fine had they listened to what their own bodies were telling them?
Sooner or later, we will rest—one way or another. The question is, Why not do it the best way possible?
What signals does your body send to you, telling you it’s time to slow down and rest? How well do you listen?
Every living creature needs time for rest to restore that which has been used. Consider the word restoration, which means “the act of returning to an original state or condition.” In adjective form it means a “reinvigorating medicine” or “anything that reinvigorates.”
“Sleep, nature’s sweet restorer, invigorates the tired body and prepares it for the next day’s duties.”—Ellen G. White, Child Guidance, p. 342.
We need to realize our limitations. We cannot do our work in our own strength. God promises grace to cope with our work. In regular rest, we permit the Lord to restore our bodies so we will awaken refreshed, ready to do His will.
Read Exodus 23:12. What reason is given there for rest?
The verb translated “refreshed” occurs as a verb only a few times in the Old Testament, yet it is based on a very common noun, often translated “soul” (Gen. 2:7), which has the meaning of “life” or “that which breathes.” In other words, it’s as if the word soul were made into a verb, and so the idea is that, through resting, we are getting more life, more breath, more “soul” as it were. Rest is therefore basic, even fundamental, to us as living humans, and by denying ourselves that needed rest, we are denying our basic humanity.
The Rest in God’s Presence
What is Jesus’ invitation to all of us? Matt. 11:28-30. What is your understanding of what Jesus is saying here? More important, how have you experienced this promise in your own life?
The rest that Jesus offers here is more than physical rest. It is rest for the soul. We need to experience the complete rest that Christ offers us. A deep sleep will suffice for physical rest. A vacation may give us emotional rest. But where can we find spiritual rest, relief from the deepest issues of the heart?
Jesus is ready to give spiritual rest to all who come to Him. What does that rest include?
It includes freedom from the pain and guilt that accompany the human struggle for acceptance through good works. We can rest in the promise that we are accepted by God because of Jesus’ perfect works, and certainly not our own imperfect ones. By His grace and the transforming power of the Spirit, Christians can yield themselves to Jesus, and He will give them rest. The just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4, Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11).
Human effort falls far short from the high standard that God requires of us. It is so comforting to know that Jesus paid the penalty for sin and that His righteousness covering us—a righteousness that exists outside of us but is credited to us by faith—contains our assurance of eternal life. His perfect life and sacrifice are our only hope. In Him our soul can find rest.
Jesus speaks not only to those who are encumbered by sin but also to those who stagger under the burdens of life, whatever they are. God knows what our struggles are, He knows what our burdens are, and offers us to lay them at His feet, trusting in His loving-kindness and care for us, regardless of our situation. What a rest for our weary souls when we learn to trust in Him!
All of us need a time and place where we can direct our minds to God. Prayer, Bible reading, and Christ-centered meditation bring with them a sense of peace and restoration.
It is in this place of personal worship that one will hear the still, small voice of encouragement and hope. This coming apart from the strains and stresses of life allows time for the Holy Spirit to restore our soul.
|How can you better avail yourself of this wonderful promise offered us in Jesus?
The Daily Rest
Read Genesis 1. During the days of creation, the evening and the morning defined each day. God was creating a natural rhythm that would permit the cycle of work and rest, to rejuvenate and restore the body in a regular fashion.
The human body requires daily rest. Studies on sleep deprivation show a variety of negative effects. These may include increased risks of diabetes, obesity, poor school performance, traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities— even psychotic behavior. The workday of airline pilots, air traffic controllers, and resident physicians is strictly regulated, laying out precisely the length of time for work and the time set aside for rest. Traditionally, before the convenience of electrical lighting, people naturally would sleep during the hours of darkness and work in the light.
In today’s modern world, we have to guard against the temptation to work more than is healthful.
Science’s discovery of the circadian rhythm, in which the body works on a daily 24-hour cycle, with specific release of hormones at certain times of the day, supports the statement made by Mrs. White: “Sleep is worth far more before than after midnight. Two hours’ good sleep before twelve o’clock is worth more than four hours after twelve o’clock.”—Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 224.
Studies performed in sleep laboratories show a need for different kinds of sleep. Adult sleep requirements range from six to nine hours. Sleep requirements are met when sleepiness and drowsiness are absent during the day and there is a sense of well-being and alertness.
People awake for 17 to 19 hours will perform at a level comparable to those who are intoxicated.
List some of the factors you think affect your
ability to get a good
Some suggestions to help you have better sleep are:
• Exercise Daily.
• Keep you room at a comfortable temperature
• Avoid eating for two to three hours before sleeping.
• Avoid tension and excitement before sleep.
• Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, or caffeine.
|How well do you sleep? What practices are you engaged in that could be hindering your sleep? What changes need you make in order to better take advantage of this important aspect of human health?
The Weekly Rest
Read Genesis 2:1–3 and Exodus 20:8–11. What do these verses tell us about just how fundamental the whole idea of rest is?
God rested on the seventh day, after completing the work of creation. The Hebrew verb for “rested” there comes from the same word designated “Sabbath” (Shabbat). This fact shows just how ingrained into the fabric of creation itself the seventh-day Shabbat and the rest it offers really are. However hard for us to fully grasp, the text makes it clear that God Himself rested on the Sabbath day.
Jesus said “ ‘The Sabbath was made for man not, and man for the Sabbath!’ ” (Mark 2:27, NKJV). What was the context of the statement, and what did He mean?
Though it is so easy to get caught up in rules and regulations, we never must forget that the Sabbath is a day for our benefit. It is for reflection and enjoyment of the wonderful gifts our God has given us. It is a time to contemplate God’s goodness. The Sabbath is a perpetual sign of our recognition of His love. The good news of the Sabbath is that, through keeping it, we do not just talk about “resting in Christ,” but we—in a very real and tangible way—express that rest, showing that we trust in Christ’s works for us, and not our own, as the way of salvation.
Besides all the spiritual benefits, the Sabbath provides us a time to step aside from the toil and struggles and stress and fatigue of the week. Sabbath is God’s way of allowing us, without guilt, to truly relax, to rest, to take it easy and unwind. Sabbath provides a way for our bodies and souls to get the rest they so often need.
|What is your Sabbath experience? Is it truly a delight, a blessing, a rest? Or, as in the time of Christ, has it become just another burden? How can you learn to derive all the benefits possible from this divinely given day of rest?
Read Ellen G. White, “Temperance in Labor,” p. 99, in Counsels on Health.
“Those who make great exertions to accomplish just so much work in a given time, and continue to labor when their judgment tells them they should rest, are never gainers. They are living on borrowed capital. They are expending the vital force which they will need at a future time. And when the energy they have so recklessly used is demanded, they fail for want of it. The physical strength is gone, the mental powers fail. They realize that they have met with a loss, but do not know what it is. Their time of need has come, but their physical resources are exhausted. Everyone who violates the laws of health must sometime be a sufferer to a greater or less degree. God has provided us with constitutional force, which will be needed at different periods of our lives. If we recklessly exhaust this force by continual over-taxation, we shall sometime be the losers.”—Ellen G. White, Child Guidance, pp. 397, 398.
| What about your local society and
culture? Is it one that pushes and drives people to work, work, and
work? Or it is one that is more relaxed? How can you learn to find the
right balance in regard to rest in whatever culture you live?
Some folk might have a hard time sleeping because of one thing: a guilty conscience. If that is you, what has Jesus done at the cross that could help you there? At the same time, what might you need to do to make things right and ease your conscience?
Dwell more on the amazing fact of God Himself resting on the seventh day of creation. What message is there for us? How are we to understand this? How does it help us better understand how important Sabbath rest really is?
|I N S I D E Story
|New Life in Christ
by DOLGORSUREN ULZII-ORSHIH
Doogii wept and prayed in the temple in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Her husband had died, and for 18 days she prayed to the idols so that his next life would be better and that her grief would subside.
But she returned home to learn that her eldest son had died. She returned to the temple and grieved and prayed for a month. This time she bought a small idol so she could pray for protection for her remaining children.
Her grief and depression were almost unbearable. One day a friend visited and saw how depressed Doogii was. "Why are you still grieving?" the friend asked. "There is a God who loves you."
Doogii's friend invited her to attend church with her the following Sunday, where the people prayed for Doogii. Doogii was impressed that these people really cared for her, and she continued to attend the church. In time she accepted Jesus as her Savior and joined the church. Once again she was happy and at peace.
She met a cattle farmer who lived in the countryside, and the two married and eventually moved to the nearby small town.
One day Doogii met a young woman who invited her to attend a small group meeting. Doogii went and enjoyed the deep Bible study with these people. Her husband went to the small group meetings with her. The couple then attended evangelistic meetings, and Doogii realized she had known so little about God before. Following the meetings she joined the Adventist church by profession of faith. Her husband is studying the Bible with the Global Mission pioneer who leads their small congregation.
"I'm happier now than I've ever been in my life," Doogii says. "I know that Jesus loves me and accepts me as His daughter." Doogii shares her faith with others and invites them to visit the small congregation of 30 or 40 members that meets in an apartment. "We're growing, and soon we'll have to find a larger place to meet," she adds, smiling.
Doogii's joy will be full when her husband and children commit their lives to God, but she knows that God is leading, and she can rest in Him.
Your mission offerings support the growing work in Mongolia. Thank you for your support.
DOLGORSUREN ULZII-ORSHIH shares her faith in Hotol, Mongolia.
|Produced by the General Conference Office
of Adventist Mission.
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