For anyone who has battled anxiety or panic attacks, the thought of rest can feel foreign, even elusive. Racing thoughts, constant anxiety, and anÂ unsettlednessÂ seems to linger no matter how much we pray.
Over the years, and especially in the past couple of years, I’ve experienced a wonderfully deep sense of rest in my soul. It’s not so much the rest from being free from anxiety and panic attacks, although that’s part of it. It’s a deep sense of rest in myÂ relationshipÂ with God. That Divine rest has been an anchor in my soul for all the other rest.
Hebrews 4:11 says we should diligently work or even “labor” to enter into this rest of God. Sounds a bit like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Â Work hard to find rest.Â The rest of God is so important that we should diligently pursue it, for when we find it, then we can experience such an abundant life (John 10:10).
Here’s what I’ve learned about God’s rest.
You can’t find rest in what you see around you
God prepared the Promised Land for the children of Israel. As Moses led them through the wilderness, they came to the edge of this new territory. It was time to enter in, so they sent spies to see what was before them.
That was their first mistake. Why didn’t they just believe God? Why did they have to see it with their own eyes?
The key to finding rest is to not focus on what you see, but focus on what God says. The Bible says it this way,Â “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). When you focus on what you see, you will be discouraged. You will not be able to rest in circumstances. You must find rest in “things above”.
To effectively take your eyes off of this world and to “look above”, it starts with what you believe.
Rest comes from what we believe
The greatest revelation I’ve experienced over these past couple of years is what Christ has done for me. His death and resurrection have wiped away all of my sin. God no longer sees me as a sinner, but as a saint. Jesus took my sin and gave me his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Now, I can come boldly into the throne of grace in my time of need (Hebrews 4:11). God is no longer counting sins against me (2 Corinthians 5:19). They have been removed from me as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
Do you ever wonder…
- Does God hear my prayers?
- Has God abandoned me?
- Have I sinned so badly that God won’t answer my prayers?
- Maybe I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.
- I sinned too much and I can’t be forgiven.
These are all lies! In Christ…
- God hears your prayers.
- God has not abandoned you.
- All of your sin–ALL OF IT—has been taken away
- If you’re worried that you’ve committed the unpardonable sin, then you haven’t.
- Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.
We have been lied to for so long that we find it hard to believe God really loves us and accepts us in Christ. We focus too much on our performance and not enough on the performance of Christ. God does not relate to us through our obedience, but through the obedience of Christ. What we do or don’t do should not determine how we relate to God.
By his grace, we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8). “Through faith.” It’s all about what we believe. If you can believe that God loves you, wants you and invites you into his presence as you are, you will find incredible rest!
Prayer: Father, help me to see all that Christ has done for me so that I can enter into the rest you have prepared for me, not by what I do, but by what I believe.