As Biola begins Sleep Week this year, you may be thinking that you have conquered the art of sleeping during the past year. In general, many Biola students are getting more hours of sleep this year than they have in the past. COVID-19 and remote learning has opened more space in many of our lives for sleep, but is the greater amount of sleep bringing us a greater amount of rest? The various difficulties from this year have left us physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually exhausted, yet we must continue to do the tasks that are set before us. It is sometimes difficult for us to allow ourselves to rest, but I am reminded of God’s design for rest when I look at the story of Elijah.
Revitalized through Rest
In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah runs for his life after queen Jezebel threatens to kill him. His journey was long and physically demanding, but fearing for his life most likely made him emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Yet even in the midst of danger and fear, God gave him rest for his body and soul.
“He came and sat down under a juniper tree. There he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough now, O Lord. Take my life. For I am not better than my fathers.’ When he lay down and slept under the juniper tree, an angel touched him. The angel said to him, ‘Get up and eat.’
Then Elijah looked and saw by his head a loaf of bread made ready on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him, and said, ‘Get up and eat. Because this traveling is too hard for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. And he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.”
When I consider the circumstances that Elijah was in when he sat down under this tree, I want to tell him, “Elijah! Keep running for your life!” but this is exactly why he must pause and find rest. The food and sleep that God gave to Elijah did not just tide him over until the next day. The angels continued to feed Elijah so that he could have strength for the rest of his journey.
Rest Especially in the Mess
Many of us find the season to be marked by exhaustion. Though you are most likely not running away from an angry queen Jezebel, you may be worn out from loneliness, taxed by technology or drained from the civil unrest in our world. Even still, we have classes, jobs, families, friends and other responsibilities that we need to manage. Especially in a moment like this, slowness and rest seems like the last thing that we have time for, but like Elijah, we must take time to refuel so that we can continue to persevere well.
During this week, consider what you need to rest from. What invitations for rest is God giving you so that he can fill you up with what you need to continue the work he has set out for you? May Sleep Week be a time for you to rest in the presence of God, finding nourishment for your heart, soul, mind and strength.
For more resources on resting, check out the Sleep Week 2021 website.
Written by Sarah Morgan (Human Biology, ‘21), Peer Wellness Ambassador.