“Oh, how restful is the thought, of Eloah’s loveliness!” These are the opening lines to the Sabbath hymn “Eloah.” Eloah is “the lovely poetic name of God.”
Should we or any thoughtful people expect to have restful thoughts these days, given the turmoil and uncertainty on so many fronts? I think that depends on what we let ourselves think about, and whether the anchor of our lives is gripping the Solid Rock, which is Jesus.
One morning recently I wakened with some words of Jesus echoing in my mind and heart: “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” This was prefaced by His statement that He had spoken to them “so that they might have peace.” That peace is rooted in the certainty that He has overcome, and the ultimate outcome is certain.
My further thoughts included, “Let not your heart be troubled” and, “fret not because of evil doers.” The result was a sense of upbeat cheerfulness that was all out of proportion to circumstances that naturally could be expected to press me down with gloomy thoughts and outlooks.
Isn’t that what a Sabbath experience looks like? The tyranny of urgent and pressing issues does consume much of our time, which is part of the six days of labor lined out for us by God. It may be worse during some phases of our lives than at others. But wise followers of Jesus learn to take time out to reorient their thoughts, objectives, and priorities on a regular basis and give themselves a chance to “take breath.” It has often been my experience to feel so pressed with demands on my time and energies that I thought I couldn’t possibly afford to take the time to rest and seemingly do nothing. Afterward though, I would find myself wondering what it was that I was in such a fever about, because taking some time to rest had reoriented my total outlook.
In Psalms 131 the psalmist speaks of having “quieted himself as a weaned child.” As a child is weaned from its mother, so we let ourselves be weaned from worldly perspectives and outlooks that shrivel the soul and can cause such “wild alarm.” Ours can be an other-worldly perspective of joy and anticipation, even as we are engaged to the utmost of our beings in resisting the evils and abominations of our day.