SABBATH REST AN ANTIDOTE FOR STRESS

By: Linda Riley, LMFT

We live in a very stressful world. The daily news reports often leave us uneasy if not downright frightened. People are starting to feel depressed about world economics and worry about having enough financial resources to take care of themselves and their families. Many of us are either unemployed or concerned about the possibility of job loss. Our significant relationships should offer us an escape from the pressures of living in the modern world; yet, often they too bring stress and conflict into our lives. We seem to frequently miss the joy of the moment because we are either ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. We struggle to keep our priorities in order. We long for a life of peace, security and love.

Do you frequently find yourself saying, “There never seems to be enough time in a day”?
This feeling of lack of time is our convenient excuse for not being able to relax, unwind and enjoy the moment. We need to find time to focus on our most meaningful relationships; first of all our relationship with God, then our partners and children. Let’s remember we should work to live not live to work. We dream about retirement where we fantasize about having the luxury of lots of free time. Yet in reality, we spend our entire lives running from here to there trying to fulfill our emptiness and longings. Often the “to do list” dominates our life and our continuous errands take precedence over the people we love. In addition, the constant stress of our daily demands causes mental and physical health problems such as heart attacks, generalized anxiety and depression. The common complaint of life seems to be “I feel exhausted and burned-out!”

Could taking a Sabbath rest be the medicine we badly need? Did God in his supreme wisdom know that mankind left to his own devices, would run around 7 days a week and never rest? He must have blessed the 7th day for some essential reason, because He only established two institutions: the Sabbath and Marriage. Together they form God’s divine plan for human happiness in the chaotic world we find ourselves living in.

Marriage provides a partner to share life with, both our joys and our sorrows. A happy marriage creates a safe haven from the challenges we face in the world. Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that when people have the benefit of a good marriage they are healthier mentally, emotionally, and physically. They live longer and recover better from serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer. They also perform the duties of life more productively. However, creating a happy marriage requires time spent with our partner, communicating, listening, and connecting on a deep emotional level. It is necessary for happily married partners to play together as well as work together. The whole world seems obsessed with connecting: on line, on cell phones or on text messaging, but the problem of being fully present in the moment remains elusive.

Would our lives change for the positive if we actually took God’s 4th commandment seriously and set a day a week aside to refocus on our real priorities? If you will recall the story of creation, God himself rested following His work of creation and He blessed the Sabbath day. He instructed us to also set aside our normal daily routines one day a week, and focus on our relationship with Him and with our significant others. Sabbath is therefore a memorial to creation and every weekly cycle reminds us that He is our God and we are His people. It is a sign of allegiance to God, and instills a sense of His power, His greatness and His works/ nature. It awakens our spirits and reminds us to pause to worship and be grateful for the life He has given us. The scriptures tell us the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. Sabbath is a gift of time that God Himself has set aside for specific use. Keeping Sabbath involves not engaging in business as usual. It provides us the opportunity for intimacy with both God and our wife/husband. It allows us to clear our minds from our worldly cares. It is the perfect antidote for today’s stress and anxiety. If we want the blessing we need to experience the physical and mental rest.

Sabbath gives us a chance to slow down, rest and recharge before returning to life as usual. If we want to be healthier and happier perhaps we should pay attention to this commandment and choose to enter the Sabbath rest.

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