Finding “Rest” in “Restlessness”

How should we make sense of our restlessness?

Restlessness here is defined as the “state of being unable to stay still or be happy where you are, because you are bored or need a change”. We all experience this every now and then, and more so now given the current situation. Professionals have shared their array of quick fixes from starting a new routine, to trying something new. Essentially, do anything new, and I’d be the first to agree that it works! However, it is merely a temporal solution. Everything new would eventually become old, and we find ourselves right back where we were, restless. We all want something lasting, don’t we? The root cause of our restlessness is sin, and therefore the only true solution is Christ.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

We turn to Ecclesiastes 7:8 which reads, “better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” The preacher here, whom most agree is Solomon, advises us to remember that ‘better is the end of a thing’. In other words, keep the end in mind, the goal, the finishing line. So the ‘end of a thing’ here for “circuit breaker” is when we finally have control over the community spread of COVID-19. It’d then be safe to relax some of the strict measures currently in place.

For now, consider the healthcare workers on the frontlines, consider the vulnerable of our society, consider those already afflicted, and it’d seem that our restlessness is all but a small and worthy sacrifice. In the same spirit, the ‘end of a thing’ for a Christian is heaven! The bible describes heaven as a paradise with mansions, pearly gates, and streets of gold. Filled with peace, joy, and praise, with no more tears, death, mourning, crying or pain. Most importantly, we’ll be with our saviour, our redeemer, our good shepherd Jesus! Now imagine that. Let that sink in for a moment. Do not let the word ‘heaven’ pass you by, not now, not tomorrow. For on the flip side is hell, and hell everlasting. Imagine how restless that’d be! So beloved, when our soul is restless from our earthly battles, keep the glorious end in mind, and be encouraged. Remember that “better is the end of a thing than its beginning”, and better because of Christ.

The preacher doesn’t stop there, he then teaches us what to do in the meantime. He continues with, “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit”. Be patient. Patience is a central theme of the bible. James 1:4, “but let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Romans 5: 3-4, “knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience, and experience, hope”. 1 Thessalonians 1:3, “remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”.

These verses uphold the importance and the power of a patient spirit. Back to Ecclesiastes, patience here is opposed to the proud. So let us also be clothed with humility. For where there is humility, there will be patience. While we await the ‘end of a thing’ in all our restlessness, let us learn to be patient to submit to God’s sovereign will and perfect time.

Now take a breather with me. I know that this is all easier said than done. But I guess we owe it to Jesus to at least try? Let go, let God, he can and will help us, for Christ’s sake!

Beloved, it’s only normal for us humans, for us sinners, to get restless every now and then. It may not even necessarily be a bad thing! Just like every lesson for the soul, learning how to deal with our restlessness will take a lot of time (and patience). But it will only get better as we grow to think and feel more like Jesus. So in the meantime, keep your sight fixated on Christ, and be still, be patient. May this end in mind be the starting point for us to find ‘rest’ in our ‘restlessness’.