6 Signs God is Telling You to Rest

Originally published Wednesday, 11 September 2019.

Have you ever been on your phone or computer and the notification popped up that your device was about to die or lose power if you didn’t plug it into a power source? You then ignore the notice because you think you’ll get to it in a few minutes but then you forget. And right in the middle of typing a sentence, or double-tapping a photo, or sending an email your screen goes black.

Now you’re all upset but mostly with yourself because the signs were there. You knew the energy was low, you just ignored the signs. I think we do this in our actual lives too. I know I do.

When we think of God telling us to do something we usually think of an activity; go here, do this, say that. In such a busy world we have a hard time wrapping our minds around the idea that sometimes God simply wants us to be still and rest. He knows we can’t function on empty so He sends signs and pop-up notifications to remind us when we need to recharge. To help us understand when God may call us to do such a thing here are 6 signs God’s telling you to rest.

1. Things aren’t going as planned.

You keep pushing yourself and trying with your own will power, and it just seems like every door is closing and opportunity lost. Sometimes this means it’s time to rest. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we should allow obstacles to cause us to quit. There is a time to push through with stubborn with faith until you get exactly what you want. I think a problem we have is that we believe resting is synonymous with quitting, and it’s not. God doesn’t want you to quit, but He may be closing doors and opportunities to give you space to rest. So don’t always see a closed-door or perceived lost opportunity as a reason to quit but a reason to rest. God’s not yet may be creating the margin in your life to rest, so you have the strength and energy you need to sustain that blessing when He does open that door.

2. You’re sick. A lot.

I don’t think God is in heaven cursing people with sickness. I think all sickness and evil comes from the fallen world we live in. However, God has given us all limits. Isaiah 40:30 tells us, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall” (NIV) We can only go so far and do so much. When we constantly try to ignore and surpass those limits, we’re more likely to get hurt or sick. Many times it’s our body’s way of forcing us to rest when we refuse to do so on our own. A car is only going to go so far before it’s time to put in ore gas. In the same way, your body will only go so far until it’s time to rest and replenish.

3. Sleep is not enough.

I know this one may seem a bit confusing because if you need rest, you would expect sleep to be the answer. What we need to understand is that rest is not limited to sleep. Rest may mean more time in prayer, a walk around the neighborhood, knitting, or taking with a friend. Dr. Saundra Dalton outlines seven different types of rest we need in her book “Sacred Rest” that include: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, and creative rest. Different types of tired require different types of rest. If you’re only trying to sleep and it’s not helping you to feel any more rested, it doesn’t mean you don’t need rest. It may mean you need to try a different form of rest. You may need to think beyond sleep. What excites you and gives you energy? Sitting in quiet, reading a good book, taking a long hot bath, working on a crossword puzzle, or talking to a friend?

4. Change in attitude or having a difficult time controlling your emotions.

Frequently finding yourself frustrated or discouraged may be a sign it’s time to take a break. Uncharacteristic emotions or even outbursts can result from lack of rest. When you’re energetic, you have the mental strength to keep negative emotions in check. However, when you’re tired or weary, not so much. We see this with Elijah in 1 Kings 19. He’s frustrated and fearful and tells God he wants to give up. He doesn’t just want to quit, he wants to die. How does God respond? He gives Elijah food to eat and sleep, deep sleep. When Elijah awakes and speaks to the Lord, he’s encouraged to carry on. He wasn’t irrational or ready to quit. That rest was just what he needed. I’ve experienced this myself too. So many times, I’ve had a bad attitude or was discouraged, took a nap, and woke up feeling like a whole new woman. As we learned in our Matters of the Heart Bible Study series, our emotions are indicators of what going on deeper within and many time negative emotions are a sign from your body that you need rest.

5. You’re bombarded with negative thoughts.

Just like with our emotions, our thoughts are harder to control when we’re tired or weary, making it more challenging to think on those good things listed in Philippians 4:8. Instead, we find ourselves arguing with someone in our head or predicting the next bad thing that will happen. When this happens, it may be time for a mental break. When this happens to me, I love to listen to Christian podcasts while taking a walk or run. The movement is a good distraction, and the podcast helps to focus my mind on Godly things.

6. You’re experiencing spiritual warfare.

I say this because the enemy knows when you’re tired. It’s then you’re more susceptible to his attacks, and please believe he will kick you while you’re down. And it’s quite the vicious cycle because the more you’re attacked, the more tired you become. But where our flesh is weak in this area, our spirit is willing. In times like this, it is essential to fill up on God by getting close to Him. You can do this through prayer, fasting, Bible study, listening to a sermon, fellowshipping with other believers, or any activity that will help you experience more of His presence.

It’s easy to lose a grip on life when we’re tired. Good thing for us, God is ready and willing to catch us when we stumble. 

Find more encouragement from Christina Patterson at www.belovedwomen.org