The rest you need

A Christian Science perspective.

According to the Bible, even God gets to rest. So what about everyone else?

If, for instance, you are the parent of a newborn, does it feel that you get way too little rest? One study actually quantified it. During the first two years, parents of newborns, on average, miss out on six months of sleep. Happily, the same study turned up a few tips: Don’t stress out and get angry. Do be a “sensitive parent,” one who’s committed to addressing the baby’s needs. That will get both parent and child sleeping through the night sooner.

Or maybe you’re a teen in high school and have a tough time making it to your first class. Several studies suggest adolescents plagued with first period tardiness aren’t being deadbeats. Their bodies simply developed a later “sleep-wake” phase than other children. These students would benefit if the high school started later.

Modifying one’s outlook. Changing one’s schedule. A number of people have found these to be helpful remedies for sleep deficit disorders. But, in the language of sports, these are minor leaguers. The big league players are the pharmaceutical companies. Don’t believe it? Look at the money.

Pharmacists collected $4-1/2 billion in 2008 as they filled 56 million prescriptions for sleeping pills in the United States. And that number was up a whopping 70 percent from 2002. Chronic users consumed two-thirds of those pills. Several studies suggest that chronic use of sleeping pills is about as harmful to your health as chronic smoking. What’s the payoff for taking that sleeping pill risk? An increase of only 10 to 30 minutes of sleep each night.

What to do? Consider this. Even God gets to rest. He gets to rest and He is never fatigued. He gets to rest even though He is the tireless Principle of the universe. He gets to rest a rest that is available throughout His universe. Why is that important to know? Because, if rest is so at hand for Him, it has to be equally at hand for His likeness, His image. That’s you. That’s each one of us.

The Bible tells us that after six days of creating, God rested on the seventh day. The Hebrew word translated as “rested” in Genesis also has in its definition “celebrate.” Think of God on the seventh day of creation as being so delighted with the way things turned out, He just had to celebrate. Unquestionably, that celebration would have to be renewing, not depleting; refreshing, not draining. With God, rest is not a lack of action. It is a lack of friction. No motion opposes His motion.

No mortally mental fretfulness or second-guessing, or rehashing of the day’s disappointments has the power to haunt a person’s consciousness or cause insomnia. They have no power to override God’s restful celebration of good. So no erosion of spiritual refreshment takes place – for Him, or for you in His likeness. Let your prayerful reasoning always begin with God. See what that tells you about you. It will lift your prayers for rest to a higher altitude than you have perhaps previously explored.

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” considered the Bible’s account of spiritual creation given in Chapter 1 of Genesis and the first few verses of Chapter 2. Of the seventh day of creation Science and Health says: “God rests in action. Imparting has not impoverished, can never impoverish, the divine Mind. No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science. The highest and sweetest rest, even from a human standpoint, is in holy work” (pp. 519–520).

In all likelihood, few new parents, in the midst of a 2:00 a.m. feeding, will think of it as holy work. Nor will most teens, trying to make it to a first period class on time, see anything about the effort that’s divinely impelled. And not much of that legion of chronic sleeping-pill users – perhaps desperately hoping to find a way off them – is going to see a holy dimension to that hope. But every effort to love selflessly, to live responsibly, to challenge addictions fearlessly, is impelled by God. Rest, sweet and renewing and refreshing rest, is available for all.

The key is to know these spiritual facts, and cling to them in prayer. Because God gets to rest, so do we. Because God is the divine Father-Mother of us all, and we are His-Her children, we have it built into our nature to get the rest we need. Because we are God’s, we have access to the Creator’s renewing power. We were designed by a loving God to go through our days feeling refreshed. As we realize this in prayer, it will show up as the practical reality in our daily comings and goings. Rest happens.

Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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