In the March 4 sermon
, I suggested that part of the meaning of this sentence is that believers enter the rest of God, here and now, by confidently trusting in the finished work of Christ. Jesus has accomplished salvation for all who trust in him. As he died on the cross he cried out, “It is finished
” (Jn. 19:30). All that is required for salvation, Jesus has already fulfilled. Therefore, the author of Hebrews explains, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified
” (Heb. 10:14).
Jesus accomplished perfect obedience in his life and complete atonement for sin in his death. Believers enter his rest now by ceasing from all striving to save ourselves by our own good deeds. Jesus has already done enough and we could never do enough to earn the right to be saved. Believers today enter his rest by knowing that our salvation has been perfectly and completely accomplished by Jesus. All we need do is rest in his righteousness, which he credits to us, when we trust in him through faith. In this wonderful fact, there is great spiritual rest today.
But is there more? Are there other ways in which believers enter his rest even now? How do believers enter his rest in middle of a world filled with storms? How can believers enter his rest while we are enduring the storm of aging and all the painful, frustrating, debilitating weaknesses associated with it? How do we enter his rest when there are storms every day at work? How do we presently enjoy his rest when we live in seemingly constant relational storms among family and friends? Can we truly experience the rest of God while living in a world that never rests?
Rest in the Midst of Life’s Storms?
On the most restless night of his life, Jesus spoke some of the most restful words in the Bible. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus spoke these words on the night before his crucifixion and death. He knew of the torture that lay ahead of him and yet he spoke perfect peace to his disciples. Being in a place of perfect peace is synonymous with being at rest. Therefore, experiencing the rest of God while simultaneously experiencing the storms of life is possible.
Once, during such a severe storm that struck terror in the heart of seasoned, professional fisherman, Jesus was asleep in the boat—completely at rest (Mk. 4:37-41). The fearful disciples woke Jesus alerting him to the fact that they were about to die. Jesus calmly stood, spoke to the storm and said, “Peace, be still.” With Christ, it is possible to experience rest while enduring the storms of life. How could Jesus experience such rest during such troubled times? How can we experience his rest while we walk through the storms of life? We must consider the life of Jesus to answer such questions.
Rest in Constant Prayer
First, be constant in prayer. Jesus habitually spent dedicated time in prayer. How many times in Scripture do we read of the disciples waking up early in the morning and noticing that Jesus was gone? After searching for him, they would find him off by himself praying to his Father (Mk. 1:35). Surely, one of the ways Jesus was able to rest through the storms of life was that he remained in constant communion with his Father. Jesus rested in the middle of storms because he received strength to endure them through persistent prayer with his Father. If this is true for Jesus, then how much more is this true for you and me?
Rest in the Power of God
Second, trust in the power of God. When the storms of life come, we usually seek an immediate exit. This may not always be God’s will. He may have something greater intended by empowering us to endure it, rather than to escape it. When the temple guard came to arrest Jesus in the Garden, Peter immediately drew his sword. Jesus told him to sheath the sword and said, “Do you not know that I could ask for twelve legions of angels right now and my Father would send them, but how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled?” (Mt. 26:53-54). All of the power of heaven was at his disposal, but exercising it at that moment was not part of God’s plan. The power to escape was there, but a greater power to endure was granted to Jesus. When the storms of life bear down upon you, know that there is sufficient power both to escape and to endure. God has power to free you from suffering, but he also has even greater power to enable you to faithfully endure suffering if that should be his will (1 Ptr. 3:17). The wisdom to know which power to call for will come from remaining in constant prayer, but rest in knowing that God is sufficient to empower you to escape or to endure. Rest in his power.
Rest in Sharing Your Burdens
Third, share your burdens. Paul instructs Christians to, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). We enter his rest when we have help carrying the heavy burdens of life. You are not intended to carry the struggles of life alone. Jesus supports you in suffering when when his people come along side you and help shoulder the weight. But this, of course, is contingent upon you sharing your burden. If you never share with others the fact that you’re in a storm, then you’ll never experience this part of the rest God intends for you to enter. Don’t disobey Jesus by keeping your storm to yourself. Let someone else in. It is the law of Christ that you share your burdens and then you’ll see who and how he provides you rest through the Christian family around you.
So enter his rest today. Let your soul be quiet before him, trusting in the finished work of Christ, who has perfectly accomplished salvation for all who hope in him. Remain in constant prayer to your Father. He will supply you with rest even in the midst of wrestling. Trust in his power. He will give you strength to escape or strength to endure. And share your burdens with a trusted brother or sister in Christ. You weren’t meant to carry your burdens alone. Enter His rest today.