Yesterday, as I reviewed my retirement accounts with my financial advisor, she commented, “Retirement looks much different now than in years past. People used to retire and live a leisure life; these days, people pick up another job just to stay busy.” She is right, of course, although I believe there are more factors than just the desire to stay busy.
Aside from the obviously inhibitive cost of living and the devastating impact of stock market crashes, I think there are many cases when the inability to retire (from a job) is motivated by a fear of missing out (also known as FOMO). We don’t want to make sacrifices in our younger years for a retirement that might not be there in our older years. As we grow older, we don’t want to give up our luxuries, so we keep on working a job until our body begins to break down.
We work more so we can do more and have more, and then we wonder why on earth we have less peace and less patience.
In the previous post on patience, we examined three elements necessary to growing the fruit of the Spirit—light, water, and pruning. The fourth, and perhaps less obvious element, is the need for rest.
Because of the year-round availability of fruit—regardless of seasons—there is a tendency to forget that all fruit requires a dormant period. Fruit trees, in particular, require a certain number of “chill hours.” As I said in the previous post, patience is like an orange.
According to one gardening website:
“If a fruit tree is grown where winter cold is insufficient to satisfy the variety’s chilling requirement, blooming and foliation will be delayed and erratic; fruit set and fruit quality will be poor.”
Fruit trees need time to rest in order to produce quality fruit. How are we any different? If we want to grow the fruit of patience in our lives, we require rest.
Get Some Sleep Already
The most obvious form of rest, of course, is sleep. We tend to downplay the importance of sleep, but we also recognize how exhausted we are without it!
We are most likely to lose our patience with others when are sleep-deprived or otherwise worn out. Sleep is important. There will be seasons where we have to be sleep-deprived in order to care for someone or something. During college, sleep-deprivation is practically par for the course. In the early days and months of parenting, our babies prevent us from sleep too! Do what you can to make it a short season and find a friend to help you from time to time.
It’s much harder to be patient when you are physically exhausted. Get some sleep!
Rest in the Lord
The law of Moses established many “rest periods” for the Israelites. The idea was an enforced rest from work in order to focus on the Lord and provide the body with recovery it needed.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”
~ Exodus 20.8-10, NASB
They were to keep the Sabbath holy. Holy literally means “set apart.” One aspect of the Sabbath that I believe is important is trust. When God gave Israelites manna in the desert, they were only supposed to gather enough for the day, but on the sixth day, the Lord provided enough for the Sabbath. They had to trust that even if they did not “work” on that day, God would provide. Of course, the Israelites often failed to trust and on the first “seventh day” they went out looking for the manna.
We are no longer under an enforced Sabbath—we are part of the new covenant in Christ—but the Lord still calls us to set ourselves apart from the world and rest in Him. This too requires trust—trust that we will not “miss out” while we rest in His presence.
There are three ways in which we “Rest” in the Lord:
Rest in Worship
Every week, we have time set aside to worship the Lord. Even though we are actively singing and actively listening, we are essentially taking a break from the world to set our hearts and minds on God. Worship reminds us of the hope we have in Christ, providing the encouragement we need to stay faithful.
Rest in Prayer
I pray often throughout my day. When worry strikes, decisions need to be made, or someone is in need, I’m lifting them up to the Lord in prayer. There are many days when it seems life is the interlude between a steady stream of prayers.
These prayers should not, however, be a substitute for regular quiet time with God. In these prayers we take time to do the following:
- praise God
- remember who He is
- give thanks for what He has done
- Confess our sins and receive forgiveness
- intercede for others
- lay our needs before Him
This kind of prayer brings peace and builds relationship with our Heavenly Father. Prayer is especially helpful in alleviating the cares of the world, which also contribute to irritability and impatience.
Rest in the Word
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
~ Romans 12.2, ESV
Spending time in God’s word refreshes the mind, grounding us in truth and reminding us of God’s precious promises. These things bring rest to our troubled hearts.
Just as an orange tree needs to chill in order to bear quality, we need to chill in order to bear quality fruit of the Spirit. Patience is an orange. Take some time apart from the world and rest your hearts to develop this critical fruit of the Spirit.
What types of rest help you to be more patient? Do you find prayer, worship, and study to bring you the peace you need to exercise more patience?