Diabetes and the Importance of Rest in the Bible

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest - pictured: woman sitting on a porch chair

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I’m writing this post about diabetes and the importance of rest in the Bible because I so badly need it for myself. Do you need rest like I do? Not just an afternoon nap. Not just an hour at the spa. Real rest for your weary soul.

As I’m typing this post, there’s snow on the ground, a string of major holidays has just passed, and I’m feeling it in my bones (both the tired and the cold). My family and I have just recommitted to Sabbath rest in this new year, and we all desperately need it. So many of us do.

The Role of Rest with a Chronic Illness

The Importance of Rest in the Bible

The Bible gives us wonderful examples of rest, which highlight the importance of it. God rested. Jesus rested. We’ll talk about that in full below, but let’s first talk about our bodies as they were created.

In general, our bodies were created to operate fully for a time, rest and recuperate, and then repeat. We see this in our natural daily routine of waking and sleeping. Medical News Today lists the benefits of getting good sleep as things like a lower chance of developing heart disease and preventing depression. Getting restful sleep overnight can also lower the risk of weight gain and help with our memory.

The Relationship Between Diabetes and Rest

Chronic illness adds another layer to many things, and this is one of them. Having type 1 diabetes can complicate things. And that makes the importance of rest that much more important.

Getting proper sleep may be easier said than done for someone with diabetes. There are so many factors that can interrupt a night. Stubborn highs to correct, a trip to the kitchen to bring up a low, and the beeping of our technology are just a few. But the flip side is also true: a history of not getting enough sleep can also impact blood glucose numbers. It can get quite messy.

Rest Is About More than Just Sleep

But it isn’t just about getting a solid night’s sleep. It’s about active rest while we’re awake as well. We need to unplug, take a while to unwind, and just breathe from time to time. We simply aren’t designed to be on task every waking hour.

An article in Forbes magazine says getting adequate rest can do things like help your body to heal, boost creativity, reduce stress, and improve productivity.

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest - pictured: woman sitting with a book and cup of coffee

What Happens when we Don’t get Rest?

An article from Mental Health America talks about the importance of relaxation and exercise. If we don’t have adequate time to relax and also move our bodies, we can face things like chest pains, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and an inability to focus. Our bodies were simply not designed to be “on” constantly. We need a balance of work and rest to maintain our physical, mental, and spiritual health.

We should check in with ourselves regularly to make sure we are getting enough rest. Signs that we aren’t getting much rest include feeling tired throughout the day, irritability, feeling stressed, and changes in mood. If we are seeing these signs, we should prioritize rest to get back into balance. As with most things, it’s easier to recover when we first see these signs than after they have piled up and we notice them happening daily.

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest

With diabetes specifically, we can slip into burnout over time if we don’t intentionally try to keep things in check. I wrote a bit about this in an earlier blog post I called “Three Ways to Avoid Diabetes Burnout.” When we face burnout, we stop doing things like exercising, eating well, checking blood sugars, taking medications, and going to doctor appointments. All of those things can ultimately put our health at risk.

Although it’s common – the CDC says the majority of those with diabetes will experience burnout – it’s a slippery slope to watch out for with this constant and never-ending illness. Part of the reason we get weary of diabetes is because it never stops. As I write in my book, it never takes a vacation. So we need to keep a keen eye out for the signs of burnout early on so we can manage it the best we can.

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest - pictured: sitting at the base of a mountain and a stream

So Why Don’t I Just Rest?

I’ll be brutally honest here, friend. Fully transparent. And it hurts for me to say this. Sometimes it seems easier for me to just keep going and not fall behind in all I need (want) to accomplish, rather than get the routine Biblical rest I need. It’s the truth. The sad truth.

But I know it isn’t healthy in the long run. And that’s the problem — I’m not thinking about the potential long term effects. So let’s take a look at the bigger picture and the ultimate purpose for our rest.

God Shows Us the Importance of Rest in the Bible

God Himself rested. Did you know this? He didn’t rest because He necessarily needed it — God never tires. But He rested as an example for us. To show us the value of rest. Let’s take a look back at the Old Testament in the account of God creating the world.

The first chapter of the book of Genesis tells us that God started with nothing and created everything. He made things like light and dark, land and water, animals and plants, and the sun and moon. On the sixth day, He created man. Then God’s work was done. So what about the seventh day of creation? God rests. Check out these following Bible verses:

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Genesis 2:2-3

God modeled resting. Again, not because He was just so exhausted and needed rest, but as an example of a rhythm for us all. God designed the week for us to set aside a day to connect with Him, worship, read, and pray. A Sabbath. A day when work stops and we rest in Him. God knows us, and He knows we need His perfect peace regularly.

His design is that it’s weekly — not once we get too far from Him, but as a way to prevent burnout and remain connected to Him. He is the creator of rest, and we find our rest in Him.

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest - pictured: woman outdoors on a deck practicing yoga

Jesus Models the Importance of Rest in the Bible

Jesus’ ministry also show us the same importance of rest and retreat. Yes, He taught His disciples, preached to the crowds, healed the blind, fed the multitudes, and all the other wonderful and amazing things we know He did. But Jesus Christ regularly retreated to connect with the Father, many times of an early morning or overnight. We see it in every one of the Gospels in the New Testament:

  • After Jesus fed the five thousand, He dismissed the crowd and went off by Himself to pray. (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, John 6:15)
  • After healing many people of their illnesses and demons, “Jesus went to a solitary place.” (Luke 4:42)
  • As the good news of Christ Jesus was spreading, “He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
  • Just before Jesus chose his 12 apostles, He retreated to a mountainside and spent the night in prayer. (Luke 6:12)

Jesus, wasn’t being selfish with His time when he prioritized rest and prayer. Like His Father, He was modeling rest and retreat and prayer for us. It is an example we should follow.

What We Need is a Rhythm of Rest

There are other stories you can point to that illustrate the importance of rest in the Bible, but these main two points make it clear enough. We need to follow the example of God and Jesus. We need to complete our work week, and then balance that out with rest. What we need is a rhythm of rest.

So how do we create a rhythm of rest?

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest - pictured: woman holding a cup of coffee on a table

Practical Ways to Prioritize Rest

First, pick a day of the week to build in a break. It’s generally easy for someone to pick Sunday to Sabbath with worship in the morning at church and the day off work. But for our family, Saturday works better. (Sunday is a work day for my pastor husband.) Maybe you work on weekends and have a weekday off. Regardless of the day, the important thing is to intentionally set aside a regular time to pursue God’s rest.

Now, let’s get practical with actual things you can do on your day of spiritual rest.

1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Take some time to acknowledge the good. Make a list of the things you are thankful for that week. Next week, add to the list.

2. PRAYER/READING

Sabbath is a great day for prayer, journaling, Bible reading, scripture memorization, and worship music. Start and end your day focusing on these things to lean into the Holy Spirit and experience the peace of God.

3. GET OUTSIDE

Being outdoors in God’s creation is a great way to experience Him and also move your body for some good physical exercise. Perhaps taking a walk or hike and stretching your body is the kind of rest you need.

4. SHUT DOWN

Turn off phones or at least notifications. Disconnect from social media. Put down the tablet. Have a “no screen” day.

5. RELAX

Do you enjoy a massage? A Sabbath day is great for that. Or a soak in the tub. Snuggle a pet. Find a place of rest and do something that relaxes your mind and body.

6. EAT WELL

This one may take some pre-planning to avoid lots of work in the kitchen, but focus on eating healthy foods on your day of rest.

7. BE CREATIVE

Do you play an instrument? Do you enjoy painting? Being creative is a good way to spend the Sabbath. Play a game. Color in a coloring book or complete a puzzle.

8. NAP

Someone wise once said, “Sometimes the most holy thing you can do is sleep.” When we are at our breaking point and seriously need a recharge, finding a quiet place for a nap and physical rest is simply the best way for us to Sabbath at the time.

My co-blogger Brandy shared ways to slow down in an earlier post. Many of those ideas can be used on the Sabbath for true rest too.

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest - pictured: woman laying outdoors on a blanket in the sunshine

Why Keeping the Sabbath is Hard

First of all, we have a real enemy. And when he isn’t getting you to sin, he wants to make you busy. When you’re busy, you can’t focus on God like you can on a day of rest. Just know that it’s real and guard against it.

Also, this concept of Biblical rest is counter cultural. At least in America it is. People often applaud others for accomplishment, for climbing the corporate ladder, for keeping a super busy schedule, and for being all things to all people. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting. The concept of Sabbath doesn’t seem to fit in this culture. You likely won’t get accolades for keeping a Sabbath day for rest, but the people of God who do will certainly benefit from it in other ways.

And my husband and I, back to our recent resolution I mentioned before, want to model it for our children. We want our kids to see us reading our bibles and praying and journaling and listening to music that gives God praise. We want to teach them the balance of life God created when He gave us the example of rest. They need to be encouraged to have some quiet time, some down time our culture doesn’t prioritize, because that’s how we were created. And we want to live in a way that is an example for them.

Diabetes and the Importance of Rest - pictured: woman sitting on a porch chair

The Importance of Rest in the Bible Is Worth the Challenge

Although it can be a challenge in our fast-paced world, and although my own brain wants to go into task-mode instead, I need Sabbath. And you do too. So when I find myself fighting against it, I remind myself of God’s Word and what God told Moses in Exodus:

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14

God is the source of our rest. He is with us always. God’s people need to keep their minds and hearts calibrated to Him regularly. We need to intentionally and regularly center ourselves on Him. And then we will find our rest.

Thank You, God, for the creation of rest. Thank You for knowing our limitations as human beings and modeling a time of rest for us in Your Word. Encourage us today, Lord God, that we will lean on You for the rest our soul finds only in You. Amen.

DO YOU SABBATH?

If you’ve keep a day of rest, would you please let me know what you prefer to do on those days? How do you keep it in this culture? Leave a comment to encourage other readers.

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The Role of Rest with a Chronic Illness

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Kaycee - Devotions on Diabetes

HEY - I'M KAYCEE!

Welcome to my Devotions on Diabetes website! Thanks for stopping by. I've lived with diabetes for 30+ years. And I'm here to provide you with a heaping helping of encouragement while you deal with diabetes and navigate this chronic illness with God by your side.

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