We all experience a certain amount of stress in our daily activities. Our body helps us meet the demands of each day by releasing a hormone called cortisol. Here’s how cortisol helps us—
- manages how our body uses carbohydrates, fats, proteins
- keeps inflammation down
- regulates blood pressure
- controls the sleep/wake cycle
- boosts energy
Cortisol is naturally flushed out of our body each day by exercise and rest.
But what happens if we don’t have the proper exercise and rest? In that case, cortisol can become a cruel double-edged sword leading to things like unhealthy weight loss or gain, inflammation (and the accompanying aches and pains), elevated blood pressure, difficulty sleeping at night, and difficulty staying awake during the day.
As a result, we start to turn every molehill into a mountain, and we tend to the extremes of avoidance (flight) or argumentation (fight).
Cortisol is naturally flushed from our bodies by a healthy on-and-off rhythm. God built this into His Creation by giving us daily rhythms of day and night, work and rest, and by giving us a weekly Sabbath to rest and reflect.
We don’t need just a Sabbath day (although that is important and God-honoring), but we need to engage in sabbathing. Look how Jesus did this:
- up early to pray before a busy day
- a nap in the afternoon when He was tired
- a snack along the road when He was hungry
- an extended getaway time with His friends
- time alone with God after a long day of ministry (see Mark 1:35, 6:30-32; Matthew 8:24; 12:1; 15:21) **
In Psalm 61, notice how David’s stress is building: he says, “my heart is overwhelmed” (v. 2). He needed a Sabbath pause (a Selah) to look back on how God had helped him in the past. When we are over-stressed, we seldom Selah to look back because we are so focused on NOW. But a time of sabbathing will allow us to reflect and celebrate yesterday’s blessings and provisions so that we have “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”
David concludes his prayer by building a proper God-honoring rhythm into his life—So I will sing praise to Your name FOREVER, that I may DAILY perform my vows. The sabbathing kept David eternity-focused which gave him the daily strength he needed.
Beware of the warning signs that you need a sabbathing pause: turning every molehill into a mountain, avoiding problems, frequently arguing with others, constantly feeling fatigued. Allow these signs to turn you to this Psalm, and turn this Psalm into your prayer.
**To learn more details of how Jesus practiced this principle of sabbathing, check out this post.
If you have missed any of the other posts in our Selah series, you can access the list by clicking here.