More Than Pseudo-Rest

April 2, 2022

O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me, or like a lion they will tear me apart. —Psalm 7:1-2

Substantial research today suggests that the chronic state of stress and busyness in our modern culture is worse for our health than the stress our ancestors experienced when predators chassed them. In those old days, the human fight-or-flight system was in full gear, with adrenaline coursing through lungs pumping more oxygen and hearts pumping more blood to muscles. But when the threat was over, they returned to their relaxed baseline until the next threat came along. Today, we’re suffering negative health effects from our constant state of stress and stimulation: suppressed immune systems, digestive problems, and chronic high blood pressure that don’t return to normal because our stress never completely disappears.

So many of us don’t make time to regularly stop our work, our self-improvement programs, and our worries so that we might take refuge in God’s values. Some of us take time for “pseudo-rest,” but binging on Netflix, food, or alcohol; mindlessly scrolling through our news feeds; or shopping for things that won’t satisfy our deepest needs won’t ultimately leave us more rested. They might eventually even tear apart our relationships or ruin our health. What if we made it a priority to make time for real rest for our bodies, minds, and souls, time in which we take refuge in our faith, our spiritual traditions, and God?

For Reflection: What does real rest look like for you? In what way(s) might God be inviting you to take refuge from all the “pursuers” in your life? Take a mid-day walk by yourself? Light a candle and drink a cup of tea while sitting in silence before you begin or end your day? Give up the idea of buying a bigger house? Decide you’ll be okay even though your teenager won’t go to the top-tier college you were hoping he would go to? Make an appointment with a spiritual director to support you in deepening your prayer and spiritual life?

To Pray: Oh, God, my refuge is in you. Keep leading me back to you for rest and renewal.