There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. Hebrews 4:9, NKJV
When the doors of Ravensbruk concentration camp closed behind people in World War 2, most gave up hope as despair closed in, but not Corrie ten Boom, who believed God had put her there for a reason: to share His love. She was miraculously released one week before her scheduled execution. After the war, she traveled throughout the world with a message of forgiveness and reconciliation. She was a light in a dark world. But in time she was felled by a stroke that took away her voice and left her bedridden. The powerful, indomitable spirit chafed within her. She wanted to get up and get going, but God had other plans.
Chuck Smith, whom Corrie called her “pastor,” came to visit her. Corrie communicated her frustration and Chuck responded, “Corrie, God is giving you a new ministry–the ministry of prayer!” And pray she did, for people all over the world.
There are times, though, when you are so down that you can’t even pray. Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, was leading a successful mission to China when the Boxer Rebellion resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Taylor’s missionaries. He was devastated. His health failed. As he approached the end of his life he wrote, “I am so weak that I cannot work; I cannot read my Bible; I cannot even pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a child, and trust.”
There are times when all you can do is trust, realizing God has not forsaken you or made you a target of abuse, and though you are so weak, so down, so devastated that you can do absolutely nothing, you can rest in Him, entrusting yourself and your care to His gracious hand.
As our staff met for prayer yesterday, I talked with them about this very thing, telling of Corrie’s distress. Dee Green, who lost her husband in 1996, said, “That’s exactly how I felt when I lost Paul.” She explained, “When you go through pain, you go through the same thing Corrie did. You cannot pray, you cannot read your Bible, you can only trust that God will take you through your pain.”
In the New Testament book of Hebrews, the author talks about God’s creating the world and resting from all His work on the seventh day. He says that there is a rest for God’s children that comes because He is in control. He writes, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God,” and then adds, “For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:9-10, NKJV).
There is an amazing rest, however, which comes as God embraces and comforts you–one that strangely defies circumstances and logic. Through the psalmist, God instructed, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), and the word we translate “be still” means, “cease from your striving!” To do this means you realize resting in the Lord is doing something powerful and worthwhile; it’s not wasted time.
A final thought: The Dead Sea in the Jordan River valley is filled with minerals and water five times saltier than ocean water. A tourist, however, not knowing that the salt content buoys you up so you cannot sink, fell into the water and not being able to swim splashed wildly getting the stinging salt and minerals in his eyes. Finally, he stopped thrashing wildly and to his great surprise floated gently on the surface. Rest, at last.
When your strength is gone and you can’t read your Bible or pray, or go to church, you can rest in the strong arms of Jesus and learn that underneath are the everlasting arms of a loving God who will not let you drown in your sorrow or pain.
Resource reading: Hebrews 4:1-13.
- Hebrews 4:9
- Hebrews 4:9 - 10
- Psalm 46:10
- Hebrews 4:1 - 13