He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV).
Friend to Friend
She leaned in close, ignoring the crowd of playful kids running past on the pavement. The ice cream truck’s jangling music box nearly muted my friend’s confession: “I’m exhausted. I decided for now, I’m just not doing anything. This is my sabbatical to rest and heal.”
In the days following, emails trickled into my inbox from another weary friend. Depression was stealing her strength and her sleep. She chose to simply stop. My friend set down productivity to pick up slow moments of peace. Practicing her “no,” she closed her ears to the demands on her time and talents to listen to God’s voice.
At this same time my daughter typed out a resignation letter to release herself from her job. The burden of stress and loneliness had become too heavy to carry. Now, she’s savoring a quiet break before working where she’ll be valued and seen.
These women don’t know how they’ve held up a mirror to my soul. By choosing to rest, they have exposed my own habits and attitudes. I’m asking tough questions with some answers I’d rather deny:
Am I ashamed of my hurts and limitations?
What am I using to numb my pain and stress?
Who am I working too hard to please?
Do I depend on my own strength or abilities to get by?
Am I brave enough to share my struggles?
Do I believe I’m truly loved?
As women, we so often have grace for others’ weakness but little for our own. We want to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) but His loving compassion is difficult to apply to ourselves. In dark times of hurt or loss, anxiety or overwhelm, we struggle to rest in His love. We power through the pain until we’re in danger of coming apart.
In Psalm 23, God offers himself as the healer of our stress and fatigue:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake (vv. 1-3 NIV).
What a beautiful invitation to receive all we need from God’s hand. Our anxiety can give way to peace. Broken bodies and hearts can be restored. Our feet can turn from self-destruction to “right paths” of wisdom and obedience to His will. Instead of wearing ourselves out to be all things to all people, we can rest in our God who is everything for us.
Yet you and I can easily ignore God’s gift of rest. We act more like the stubborn nation of Israel in the book of Hosea. Instead of depending on God for their needs, they put their trust in useless idols to provide. They “rejected knowledge” of God’s Word in favor of corrupt leadership and human wisdom. (Hosea 4:6) Their hard hearts refused to follow the loving Shepherd who could guide and “pasture them like lambs in a meadow” (4:16).
Israel’s efforts to go it alone made a wreck and ruin of their lives. They found themselves suffering instead of safe and secure in God’s love.
Are you depleted today? Do you feel crushed by the weight of others’ needs and expectations? Does the world have a greater voice than the Word in your life? Perhaps you’re putting on a brave face to mask your fear. Or sin feels too powerful to resist. You feel alone in your pain. Dear tired friend, say “yes” to your Shepherd. He is calling to you right now, saying,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
Lord, You are not impressed by my grit or self-sufficiency. You do not despise my weakness or tears. Today, I’m exhausted from trying to solve my problems and handle life on my own. I’ve reached the end of myself, and I want to follow You into rest. Forgive me for pride that depends on my strength instead of yours. Teach me to be still and know You are God (Psalm 46:10). Restore my soul as only You can.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What signs of spiritual, emotional, or physical burnout are showing in your life right now?
What activity might God be leading you away from so you can experience rest?
Where and when can you meet with God this week to meditate on Psalm 23 and share your needs with Him in prayer?
More from the Girlfriends
God’s peace and rest are found in His presence. Joanna’s devotional, Hope for Each Morning, will lead you to draw closer to God every day of the year.
Each simple, heartfelt entry offers a scripture, teaching, and prayer to refresh your confidence in God’s love and promises. This beautiful foil-embossed edition is the perfect gift for the friend or loved one who needs to know the hope found in Jesus today.
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