Barriers to Rest

What keeps us from spiritual rest? Why are our lives marked by so much unrest?


There are seasons when I am swamped and busy but my soul is thriving. I am happy and content and encouraged, even though I am physically tired. There are also seasons when work is slower and family life is slower, I am getting more sleep at night, but my soul is in turmoil. I am struggling to be happy. I am even struggling with depressed thoughts.

For many of us we think that if we only had better health…then we would be happy. Others think that if we only had a certain amount of money or better job security…then we would find rest. Some of us struggle believing that if only our children were doing better…then we would find peace. Maybe you lost someone or had a deep divide in a relationship and you believe that if you only had them back or if things would only return to how they were…then you would have rest.

But Hebrews 3:12 teaches us that our problem is something different:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

What keeps us from rest? We have a belief problem at the heart level. Our hearts believe that better health, more money, and more people liking us will ultimately make us happy. But the writer of Hebrews says that a heart that finds its rest in all those other good things is not only an unbelieving heart, but also an evil heart! Rest equals closeness to Jesus. But, what keeps us from that rest is believing that we will find rest somewhere else.

Pay close attention to the thought process here. The writer goes further and warns us that if we are trying to find rest in anything but Jesus, we will end up moving further away from Jesus?! But remember, closeness to Jesus is where we find rest and happiness?! The irony is that when we try to be happy in other things then we actually move further and further away from rest and happiness.

So what does this look like? Many times we try to find our happiness in a person rather than Jesus. I am a little unique in that I have been in love with my wife since 7th grade! I remember being in High School and going to a movie with Kristen and getting to hold her hand. To this day, I have no idea what movie we were watching because I was so overwhelmed by the joy of getting to hold her hand. I mean it was fireworks. I was googly-eyed and my insides were mush.

Kristen makes me happy, but what if I try to find my ultimate rest in Kristen over Jesus? What happens when she is mad at me or disappointed in me? What happens when God chooses for her to pass away before I do? I will become miserable. I will lose my rest.

Many times we try to find our happiness in our financial security. We all have plans and we work hard to achieve those plans. Maybe it is to buy a house or build a business or retire early or have so much in savings. But what happens when unforeseen market forces hit and you lose your savings and lose your business and you foreclose on your house? If your hope is primarily in those things over Jesus then we will not have contentment and rest when we lose those things because we will be far from Jesus.

What if our chief longing is the return of relationship? Maybe we have lost someone or a relationship is not reconciled like we desire. These things hurt, and should hurt. But, if our rest is found in dwelling with Jesus, we can weather these hurts.

Rest equals closeness to Jesus. Our sinful desires for something more than closeness to Jesus pushes us away from Jesus and thus pushes us away from rest and happiness.