For my personal retreat this month, I was privileged to stay at The Haven, a family-owned retreat center in Orange County. They had an interesting message board right inside the entry door, which said “Take what you need” and then had a set of tear-off tabs along the bottom with various words or phrases. The ones that God drew my attention toward were the words “Rest” and “Hope.”
As I sat and thought about the significance of those desires for rest and for hope in my life, God showed me how connected they are. When hope is alive and strong, I more readily receive the gift of rest; but when I am feeling hopeless, rest goes out the window in my feverish attempts to make things happen on my own.
I was reminded of a verse that I had memorized way back, that says “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” That was the old NIV translation of Psalm 62:5, but in the ESV, the first part reads “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence…” So apparently waiting quietly is synonymous with finding rest. Certainly not all waiting is restful, but true rest certainly does involve waiting. Waiting–and resting–require us to release control of outcomes.
Isaiah 40 was another passage that came to mind that puts these concepts of rest and hope together. Verses 30-31 (in NIV) say “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” But again here, ESV puts the word “wait” in place of “hope” (“they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength”). So apparently waiting for the Lord is synonymous with hoping in Him. And again, not all waiting is hopeful, but true hope does involve a measure of waiting. Waiting–and hoping–require us to release control of the timing.
God challenged me with these realizations, because I certainly desire rest and hope, but I usually don’t want to wait for it. I would prefer to maintain my sense of control over the outcomes and over the timing, but when I try to hang on to that control, I cannot rest and hope does not last.