The look on his face said it all. And then he spoke, “I am totally stressed out.” This was followed by a lengthy list of all the things on his plate. I, frankly, was exhausted about halfway through his litany of challenges.
The American Institute of Stress website offers this:
“The term ‘stress’, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as ‘the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change’.”
Google defines “Stress” this way:
“A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”
And if you go to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website, you will learn this about college students:
“Eighty percent say they frequently or sometimes experience daily stress.”
One of the primary things that we learn about God in the beginning is this:
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1-3)
Part of the rhythm of life in God’s created order is to rest – to take sabbath. It’s even one of the big 10:
“Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20: 8-10)
Theologian, pastor, and Christian apologist Tim Keller writes this:
“God liberated his people when they were slaves in Egypt, and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, God ties the Sabbath to freedom from slavery. Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave – to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom. Thus Sabbath is about more than external rest of the body; it is about inner rest of the soul.” (http://dailykeller.com/sabbath-rest/)
Stress seems to be such a part of our reality. Frankly, it’s my opinion that in many ways stress has become a ‘merit badge’ – demonstrating how hard we are working and how important we are. Yet, the message is clear from the beginning of our sacred story to the Ten Commandments, from Jesus inviting us not to worry (Luke 12:22-31) to Jesus’ words directly before teaching on the sabbath:
”Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
We are called to counterbalance the stress in our lives with intentional sabbath time.
My prayer for all of us is that we can claim the sacred rhythm God calls us to by creating space for sabbath in our lives.