August ’21: Prayer and Finding Peace
By Ethan Fong
After a long day of classes, staring at the dull glow of a screen for hours, what I desire most is rest. Pure, uninterrupted rest. Now, to meet our physical needs, the rest we seek may look like devouring a bowl of instant ramen or taking a very long midday nap. We often enjoy endlessly binging YouTube videos and consuming a whole lot of media, all this to provide us with rest. But despite our good intentions, most of the time, these numbing remedies fail to address our fundamental, spiritual needs. That ‘spiritual rest’ is what we so desperately need.
So what does spiritual rest look like? It’s a hard question, but we can turn to scripture to provide us with some guideposts. However, rather than looking at how we CAN find rest, let’s look at how NOT to rest. The Holy Spirit puts it best in Hebrews 3:7-11:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me…I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
In Hebrews, the Holy Spirit commands the Israelites to NOT harden our hearts in times of testing; the same goes for us. One way to interpret this is that God wants us to continue to be curious Christians who hunger to know Him better, despite difficult times. Another way to interpret this is that God uses pain and suffering to point us in a direction so we might rely on Him more. But He warns us that if we choose to rely on our strength, we will face the wilderness with weak minds and weary hearts.
At this point, you may feel uncomfortable with that last sentence––being left to fend for yourself. Good. You should be. The Israelites who rebelled against Moses chose to be ignorant towards God and to abandon the faith that freed them from Egypt, and as a result, God let that generation die. Though we aren’t ancient Israelites, God is still God, and we are still Man: fervent fear activated.
In essence, though many things grant us physical rest, only one thing can give us spiritual rest: the Lord. God has and will continue to go to great lengths to meet us where we are, capture our hearts and spend time with us. He will never stop pursuing us, for he desires a relationship with each person he has created, and because it is in Him where we find real spiritual rest––in His presence, relying entirely on him for our strength, patience, wisdom, and every good quality we could ever imagine.
Now back to you, reader: if you believe that all pain and suffering leads to some greater good in God’s plan, you must entertain the possibility that the turmoil in your life is probably there for a reason. Perhaps because God wants to spend more time with you. Maybe He wants you to exercise a childlike faith and solely rely on Him because that’s where you’ll find true, pure, uninterrupted rest.
As you go on about your day after reading this, I encourage you to challenge your definition of rest and reconsider how God may be trying to reach you. Ask yourself…
- When has God used suffering to bring me closer to Him?
- What does true rest look like for me?
- How can I spend more time with God?