Invitations to find rest and life in Jesus Christ
5 MINUTE READ
As I write this editorial, it strikes me that the topic of this issue is vital, both for such a time as this, and for the flourishing of our generation.
The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus continues to mount its pressing presence (both in Australia and around the world) in a multitude of ways – illness, understaffing across all sectors, disrupted supply chains, cancelled elective surgeries, delayed response to true emergency calls, and deaths. Uncertainty and a sense of languishing1 pervade the collective psyche in parallel with the global pandemic. The effect on the global poor is compounded – from food and supply insecurity to the rise of COVID-19 cases exacerbated by overcrowded living conditions.
On a local scale in the West, events and social gatherings are impacted, including church services, while parents of young children are living a hybrid mix of working from home and child-minding. Ironically, several potential contributors to this issue of Luke’s Journal were unable to write articles due to their need for rest! For many of us, an increasing workload is overflowing into personal life in the current COVID-19 climate.
What a time in our lives to need to read about Rest! I am convinced of this as I see healthcare workers (from frontlines to behind the scenes) being increasingly pushed to the limits of their physical and mental capacity. I also see this same generation being impacted by the pervasive presence of technology and our globally-connected world, such that we tend to prize “busyness” above other treasures (Matthew 6:21).
“I also see this same generation being impacted by the pervasive presence of technology and our globally-connected world, such that we tend to prize “busyness” above other treasures (Matthew 6:21).”
In response, there have arisen voices from within and around the healthcare field intentionally pushing back. These raise alarms over the harmful effects of overwork and advocate for a shorter work week2 – perhaps a call back to the ancient pattern of work and rest (Genesis 2:1-3). While a purely secular approach to finding rest seeks to restore inner strength in a vacuum,3 a Christian response acknowledges that our limitations point to our true humanity – that we are creatures, dependent on our Creator God.
Sally Schwer Canning, a community psychologist and professor at Wheaton College, writes that she hesitates at teaching “self-care” and seeking “balance”, finding that the metaphors of being good stewards and endurance runners are more accurate in the search for human flourishing.4 What these metaphors reveal is that the pursuit of a worthy goal involves a lifestyle that distinguishes priorities from distractions.
This is the same thrust behind John Mark Comer’s book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”.5 Comer urges Christ-followers to re-align our lifestyles with that of Jesus’ example during His earthly ministry. I’m convinced that all of us Christ-following care providers can suffer from the effects of “hurry sickness”, or are caring for those suffering from this. Comer puts forward a four-fold lifestyle for such an illness: simplicity, time for silence and solitude, to observe the Sabbath, and to slow down. Henri Nouwen also reminds us that “silence without speaking is as dangerous as solitude without community. They belong together”.6
“I’m convinced that all of us Christ-following care providers can suffer from the effects of ‘hurry sickness’, or are caring for those suffering from this.”
And to what end? To seek the glory of God and towards heaven, yes, but also towards human flourishing, or an abundant life, as Jesus called it in John 10:9-10.7 What can that look like for us caregivers at work, home, church, neighbourhoods, and crossing cultures? I wonder if it can look like caregivers also being care-receivers. This was impressed upon me during a short-term medical trip to Vanuatu where God led me to a place to receive Him as my Help and Rest before I could then give and receive help for and from others.
In this issue of Luke’s Journal, you will find invitations to find rest and life in Jesus Christ – from the perspectives of a medical student recovering from burnout, a dentist’s observation of bruxism linking to lack of rest, an emergency physician’s call to rest in your identity as an image-bearer of God, and a nutritionist’s research observations on our need to “rest and digest”. You’ll also find a number of self-submitted articles and “Fire in the Belly” articles, including one from Prof John Whitehall.
May reading this issue bring you to that beautiful and complete picture of rest in Psalm 131:
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself
with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
Dr Eleasa Sieh Dr Eleasa Sieh works part-time as a GP and studies Biblical counselling with Westminster Theological Seminary online. She serves on the Luke’s Journal editorial team and the CMDFA National Board. She enjoys finding rest outdoors hiking, indoors rock-climbing, and finding new books and music to recommend to others.
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- Grant, Adam. New York Times [Internet]. “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing”. Accessed 11th February 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html
- Kim et al. “Overwork-related disorders and recent improvement of national policy in South Korea”, J Occup Health. 2019 July; Vol 61(4): 288-296. doi: 10.1002/1348-9585.12060. Epub 2019 Apr 25.
- Blum, Dani. New York Times [Internet]. “The Other Side of Languishing is Flourishing. Here’s How to Get There”. Accessed 11th February 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/04/well/mind/flourishing-languishing.html
- Canning, S.S. “Out of Balance: Why I Hesitate to Teach and Practice ‘Self-Care’”. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 2011, Vol 30, No. 1, 70-74.
- Comer, J.M. “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World”. Waterbrook Press, 2019.
- Nouwen, Henri. “Can you Drink the Cup?”, Ave Maria Press, 1996, p106
- “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:9-10 (ESV)