Recently, after a week in Beaverton, Oregon watching my grandsons, I learned firsthand how busy their baseball schedules can be. Despite rainouts and a printed schedule, getting up at 6 AM to take my oldest grandson, Conor, to lift weights was tough. I love my sleep and know how much teens need theirs but seeing his motivation to improve was worth it. Unfortunately, his weekend tournament was cut short due to illness, giving me the opportunity to teach him about how the Bible
tells us we need a day of rest and how athletes need a recovery day.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to feel like we have to be constantly on the go, pushing ourselves to the limit in order to achieve success. But the Bible offers a different perspective, one that emphasizes the importance of rest and recovery. In fact, the Bible tells us to take a day of rest each week, a practice that may seem counterintuitive to achieving your goals but is supported by science.
Rest and recovery are essential for athletic performance. When we exercise, we create microscopic tears in our muscle fibers, and it is during rest and recovery that these tears are repaired, and the muscles become stronger.
A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that recovery time between workouts was critical for athletes to maintain performance levels. Without adequate rest and recovery, they had a higher risk of injury, burnout, and decreased performance.
Similarly, taking time off from work or other strenuous activities can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of burnout. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that employees who took regular breaks throughout the day were more productive and less likely to experience fatigue and stress.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.
(Psalm 127:2 NIV)
Sleep is a vital aspect of physical rest and recovery, important to overall health. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get enough sleep, my gut lets me know! When I was a practicing CPA, I often didn’t get enough sleep during tax season, and would have symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
I didn’t know back then that sleep deprivation can increase levels of stress hormones, which in turn can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. As if I didn’t already have enough cortisol from the stress of tax season, not getting enough sleep, increased it even more!
Did you know that a lack of sleep can actually disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to harmful bacteria overgrowth and a decrease in beneficial bacteria? This imbalance, known as “dysbiosis”, can cause digestive problems, inflammation, and other health issues.
Sleep deprivation can also harm your gut lining which plays a critical role in nutrient absorption and immune system function. A damaged gut lining can make your gut “leaky” or more permeable. When harmful substances are allowed to leak into the bloodstream, it can trigger inflammation throughout your body.
The apostles returned from their mission and gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. There was such a swirl of activity around Jesus, with so many people coming and going, that they were unable to even eat a meal. So Jesus said to his disciples, “Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where you can rest a while.” (Mark 6:30-31 TPT)
The Bible teaches that rest is both a physical and spiritual necessity. Taking time off from work and other activities allows us to reconnect with God, our families, and ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on our priorities and to recharge our batteries so that we are better equipped to achieve our goals.
When the disciples returned from their ministry, Jesus didn’t just tell his disciples to rest because they were physically exhausted. He wanted them to take their attention away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and put it back on Him. He knew that to continue helping others, they needed time apart to refocus and refresh.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. (Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV)
So what can we learn from this?
Science supports what the Bible has been telling us for centuries about the importance of rest.
In today’s fast-paced world, it can be easy to feel like rest and recovery are luxuries that we can’t afford. But Scripture and science both tell us that they are essential for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. So, the next time you’re tempted to push yourself beyond your limits, remember the wisdom of the Bible and the science of rest.