We usually think of stress as being caused by negative pressures or unhappy events of life. Those are easily recognized. However, sometimes we do not realize that even “good pressures” and working for a good cause, such as in service to God, may result in the unhealthy effects of long standing stress. The key is to evaluate how balanced our life is. If we are not getting proper rest, our body may experience profound physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual damage. We must be reminded that as health ministers in God’s service, it is our duty to “put our glass down” for a while and rest. What does it mean to put the glass down?
A lecturer who once raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. He replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." He continued, "And that's the way it is with managing the stress and responsibilities in our life. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on.” As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. And when you are refreshed, you can carry on your responsibilities in a more effective way.
This healthy concept was best exemplified by Christ himself. He had a perfect sense of when to serve and minister to others, and when to stop and rest. In Mark, chapter 1:35-38 we read about the instance when the crowd was looking for Jesus, seeking to be healed and to listen to His words. But after a long and full day ministering to their needs, Jesus woke up early the next day to rest and commune with God. When the disciples found Him praying and resting under a tree, they told Him, “Master, the multitude is looking for you…”. Instead of stopping and going to attend to the needs of the crowd Jesus decided to leave and go to another town. You may ask, “how could He leave behind that needy multitude?” Jesus knew His mission, and in His daily devotions the Holy Spirit revealed to Him when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. He had wisdom from above to know when “put the glass down” for a while.
Sometimes it’s easy to be so fully engaged in ministry that we forget to rest our mind, body, and soul. As I travel around the world I have seen many dedicated leaders who find little time for rest. Some even feel guilty when they rest.
We must remember God never asked us to sacrifice our health and our families as we serve. We must choose to set time aside for rest, to enjoy His presence alone daily, and make time for loved ones and even hobbies. That is an essential part of our ministry and living a healthy life. As we begin a new year we are reminded to follow Jesus’ example. May we each seek His wisdom, and plan ahead to put our work down as needed, seeking rest in His presence. We can pick it up tomorrow, or a few days later, reenergized to best fulfill His plan for us.