Sick - 31 Days of Sabbath : 20

Teyla has been sick this week. An on-again, off-again fever. Circles under her eyes. A slightly runny nose. General lethargy. Enough whine to host her own weekend tasting.

So naturally – but uncharacteristically – she sleeps. Three times this week, she’s taken 2.5 hour naps. She’s gone to bed each night stifling yawns and fallen asleep almost immediately. And this is the girl who didn’t even nap as a baby, who reluctantly accepts her destiny of sleep only after the clock strikes 10, most nights.

Sleep is powerful. It’s restorative. Our bodies heal best while asleep. Our brains reset. A good night’s sleep spurs creativity, improves memory, sharpens attention, even helps reign in our appetite. It’s a miracle drug.

So why do we spurn it?

God created us to need rest. Need. It’s not supposed to be an occasional thing we dabble in, a treat we squeeze into our busy lives when we have a few free hours.

It’s both pitiful and sobering that it takes sickness before many of us will accept God’s mandate.
If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath – our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us. In my relationships with people suffering from cancer, AIDS and other life-threatening illness, I am always struck by the mixture of sadness and relief they experience when illness interrupts their overly busy lives. While each shares their particular fears and sorrows, almost every one confesses some secret gratefulness. “Finally,” they say, “at last. I can rest.”
-Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, Wayne Muller
Does that quote sucker-punch you like it does me?

I remember living like that.

Fifteen years ago, I worked as a TV news producer. My husband was a busy executive. We helped lead a group of young marrieds at our church. I was involved in the drama ministry. Corey played softball, religiously. We lived a typical, crazy, whirlwind busy Southern California lifestyle.

Rest? That was an after-thought. I indulged in a Sunday afternoon nap, occasionally. That was good enough, wasn’t it?

It wasn’t. My journals from that time reveal it: Whenever I got sick, I would sit still and pray and read my Bible and reflect. I would sense an emptiness in my soul that I couldn’t feel when I was moving. Sickness was my gift, a chance for me to sleep and be with God. I remember, even then, feeling sad that it took illness for me to rest.

I don’t live like that anymore. Rest is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity.

And oh. It’s also a command.

I don’t want to have to get sick in order to obey it.


  1. So true! I get strep every time I get overly busy or run down. I guess I am a carrier or something. After two bouts in August, I have decided to slow down. Go to sleep. Take that nap. Veg while reading a book. I am suddenly a new person. Giving myself permission to rest has changed my life. Hopefully forever. Thanks for your blog. It is a blessing.

  2. Wow! I can definitely relate. I often find myself thanking God when I get sick, knowing that He is telling me that if I won't rest, he'll make me rest. Oh, that I would just obey Him to begin with so that my rest can be minus the Kleenex and Advil! Thanks for this encouraging post.

  3. I'm just going through your posts on the Sabbath! Thank you for taking the time to write them! I'm really enjoying them so much. It's given me a lot to think about!

  4. Now that is a great teaching! I do rest now that I am older... But for years I ran on empty. Thanks!