“30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. (Mark 6:30-34)
When I was younger, I was shocked to find out my older friends needed 8 hours of sleep each night. I was thinking: why waste so much time on sleeping! The younger me could survive with only a few hours of sleep, and I did enjoy the excitement of not sleeping the whole night to finish up my assignments.
I thought that sleeping less = being productive.
And I was so wrong.
Doctors recommended that we get about 7-8 hours of sleep every night for our well beings.
More importantly, the Bible teaches us that sleep is important.
Firstly, God created us to need to sleep. After God created Adam, the first human being, God made Adam to fall asleep. And God did His work during Adam’s sleep. When Adam was sleeping, God took a rib bone of out him and made a woman—a life partner for Adam.
When we sleep, God is doing something in us. Our cells are rejuvenating. Our organs are resting. God refreshes us in our sleep.
Secondly, sleep is surrendering to God. Sleep means we admit our own frailty as human beings. We can’t work all the time. We don’t have everything in control all the time. We never will. But God is in complete control over the universe. We sleep at night knowing that our God is watching over us. We can trust in Him.
For the Israelites, the Sabbath started when the sun set. Their day and night started and ended at sunsets. They started their day not by working, but by going to sleep. It means, total surrender to God. We can’t do anything apart from God.
Thirdly, sleep is a gift from God.
Psalm 127 tells us, sleep is a gift from God. We need sleep and rest from our work, regardless how much we enjoy our work.
“1Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves”.
For God grants sleep to those He loves. It is a reminder that we should not be worry or anxious, but we should rest in Him like little babies, trusting in Him.
It is interesting how many times in Psalm 121 that we are reminded that God doesn’t sleep. It is His job to protect us. This Psalm tells us, God who watches over us does not slumber or sleep, therefore, nothing can harm us. He watches over from all harm. He watches over our life.
We can trust in Him and sleep in peace.
We read in Psalm 3:5–6, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” Then we read in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
When we sleep and when we rest, we are surrendering everything to God. He gives us rest and peace, and sleep.
The Bible is not asking us to rest and sleep and rest and sleep. There should be a balance.
In Mark 6: 7-13, Jesus sent out His disciples 2 by 2 to tell others the Good News. Jesus also gave them authority to cast out evil spirits. The disciples went out to teach, drove out evil spirits and also to heal many sick people.
When they regroup with Jesus again, they were so excited to tell Jesus everything they had done and taught. About that time, a big group of people in need came to Jesus and His disciples for healing and to hear the teachings of Jesus. The crowd kept pressing in until Jesus and disciples did not have a chance to eat. So, Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”.
Jesus invited His disciples to come with Him to get some rest. Come with Jesus for a time of quietness and be recharged.
Soon, the crowd caught up with them. Jesus saw them and had compassion on them. Jesus demonstrated to us the balance between rest and work.
Jesus rested, and He worked hard too. In rest, Jesus glorified God, in His work, Jesus glorified God too.
We too, rest in Him to be energised to serve Him. We serve God and others to glorify Him.