Rediscovering the Sabbath: A Real Rest

By Devin Almonte Published on May 18, 2024

Ever feel the need for a mental health day, just a break from the grind? It’s increasingly common for people to take such days off to recharge. Some companies even offer a week off to combat burnout. But are we merely applying a Band-Aid to a deeper issue?

Our schedules are overbooked with so many demands that they exceed our 24-hour day. Perhaps we juggle the care of elderly parents or manage children with disabilities. We work 60 hours a week, then grab meals to go on our way to kids’ soccer games or while caring for an ill spouse.

This is an unfixable part of life that will not be fully redeemed until Christ’s return:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:17)

A Knock-Off Sabbath

So we go into fix-it mode. We take mental health days to recover from the painful toil. We convince ourselves we have evolved and have found modern solutions to our mental health crises. We practice deep breathing; we ingest calming gummies to take the edge off; numb ourselves with Netflix binges; and fall asleep to apps with ocean sounds. Worse, we turn to online assessments that ask if we are sad or overwhelmed, then wait for an artificial voice to tell us how to heal.

Maybe the answer is medication. Maybe it’s a walk. Rarely, if ever, is the answer “Jesus Christ.”

Aren’t these modern-day solutions just a superficial, temporary way of creating a version of the Sabbath?

A Gift for Us

What if we took a step back and embraced true rest — not just sleep, but a time to pause, worship, and recharge our bodies and our spirits? Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). It’s a gift for us, a remedy for our weary souls.

We make a mess of things when we create knock-off versions of what God made in the beginning.

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Some companies strive to address mental health needs. At Amazon, for instance, a partnership with Twill Therapeutics offers 24/7 access to mental health care. Twill provides mood tracking, science-backed games, and activities designed to help employees and their family members manage stress and build confidence.

Amazon also created something for on-site employees called the “ZenBooth” or “Mindful Practice Room.” This is a narrow, phone booth-like box where employees can go to “recharge” their internal batteries, all while being guided by a computer that offers a variety of mental health and mindfulness practices.

Is any of this working? 

The Worsening Mental Health Crisis

The more we focus on improving our mental health through various programs, the worse the outcomes get. TIME magazine reports that despite more people seeking therapy, U.S. mental health continues to decline across multiple metrics. Suicide rates have surged by about 30% since 2000. Almost a third of U.S. adults report symptoms of depression or anxiety — triple the number in 2019. Additionally, about one in 25 adults deals with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. As of late 2022, only 31% of U.S. adults rated their mental health as “excellent,” a significant drop from 43% two decades ago.

Can apps, videos, and AI therapists really alleviate mental health issues? Are we too laser-focused on what’s wrong with the world and how that affects our wellbeing rather than what’s wrong with us and how we affect the world? 

The Sabbath Solution

Meanwhile, research from the Duke Global Health Institute tells a different story for some. This study revealed that Protestant clergy who increased their observance of the Sabbath experienced significant improvements in their mental and spiritual well-being. 

The Sabbath is far more than a wellness solution; it’s a transformative spiritual practice. Our current mental health strategies are incomplete without the foundation of Christ. Matthew 7:26–27 warns us:

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

By building our lives upon the merciful gift of Jesus and embracing the Sabbath, we align ourselves with a life order that fixes, nourishes, and sustains us far more deeply than any earthly or scientific solution ever could.

A Sabbath Prayer for Weary Sojourners:

Heavenly Father,

We come before You burdened by the heavy shadows our mental health issues cast over our hearts. In Your mercy, hear our prayer. We ask that You wrap Your arms around all who struggle, covering us in Your love and guiding us toward the true healing found in Your salvation. Open our eyes to see You, to understand Your wisdom, and to find refuge in the rest You so graciously provide — the blessed Sabbath.

In Jesus’s name we pray,

Amen.

Imagine the good gifts we’ll find if we lean into this Sabbath rest. Perhaps we’ll heal, maybe even flourish. And who knows? Maybe we’ll even find reasons to smile.

 

Devin Almonte is a respected wellness expert, TV and radio host, writer, and blogger who illustrates how a biblical worldview offers the hope and answer for a flourishing life. She is an active member of the 2023-24 Colson Fellows Program and host of the nightly radio show “Encouraging Star Stories.”

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