THE CONCEPT OF REST & FATIGUE
Types of rest:
Rest is mentioned in the story of creation, in the
beginning of the Holy Scriptures. It is said, "Then God
blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it
He rested from all His work which God had created and
made" (Gen. 2:3).
The rest meant here is the rest after finishing or completing work. When a person completes what he is doing he feels comfort and rest.
The Lord God rested on the seventh day from His work as the Creator.
He rested on the Sunday of the Resurrection after He had completed His work of salvation and redeemed people from sin and death.
Another type of rest is that expected by the world, that is, the eternal rest.
No fatigue, illness or suffering shall be there during this
rest which lasts forever. All causes of worry shall cease
Some other rest that precedes the eternal rest is that
experienced by people after death. A person after
death rests from the troubles of this world, from the
disturbance and the burden of the body, and from the evil
existing around him, as the Holy Bible says, "that they
may rest from their labors, and their works follow them"
That is why we say a departed person is in repose which means rest.
There are other kinds of rest while we are on earth.
There is the physical rest, the rest of the mind, soul,
heart and feelings as well as the rest of one's conscience.
There is also psychological rest as well as spiritual rest.
We shall deal with all this in detail, but let us begin with
The bodily rest:
God Himself willed that the body takes
rest. He created
the body and He knows its nature that it needs rest. So
He gave it the seventh day of the week as the day of rest.
He said about the Sabbath, "The Sabbath was made for
man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).
And concerning the holy days and feasts of the Lord, He said, "You shall do no work on it" (Lev. 23:3,7).
So, we should give the body physical rest, for it is not a sin but rather a divine commandment.
A person should be wise so as not to exhaust his body beyond its power nor give it more rest than it needs which leads to laziness or sluggishness.
I remember a professor of medicine in London
to me: 'I cannot prevent you from hard work; for your
responsibility requires that, but I prevent you from over
work.' By 'over work' he meant work that is done after a
person becomes exhausted and ought to have stopped.
He said to me also: 'The work you do happily and joyfully
will not injure your heart, whereas the work you do when
feeling annoyed and troubled will exhaust you physically.'
Feeling delighted in work makes one not feel tired.
There is a relation then between psychological or mental rest and physical rest.
An untroubled spirit can bear the burden of
the body, but
if the spirit is troubled, the body will feel tired. To make
the body comfortable, as some scientists say, do not let it
work for a long time without rest. Give your body some
rest, even for a few minutes, amidst long hours of work.
This is the purpose of the break given during work, to
help your body recover and give you rest.
The body suffers also from illness and becomes unable to endure.
A sick person often needs complete rest. He
gets tired if
he talks or listens too much. He gets tired because of any
sound, movement or thinking. For this reason, hospitals
limit visiting hours. Do not think that you give comfort
to the sick by your lengthy visits or endless talk!
Bodily rest is different from laziness.
Laziness means that a person has the ability to work but does not want to work. Laziness, therefore, has many consequences such as, the failure to carry out responsibilities. There is also the physical aspect which laziness may lead to, such as heaviness or sluggishness and hence the body loses its natural vitality. It may also lead to weight gain and apathy.
It is well known that humid weather leads to laziness,
whereas cold weather helps one to be active and move.
Movement also generates heat within a person.
Therefore the retired who spend the rest of their lives at
home or at the club become sluggish, while the retired
who go on working remain physically powerful.
Likewise active, working women differ from
sit at home doing nothing but become overweight and
By bodily rest we do not mean absolute rest.
The body might be fast asleep but the heart works
regularly. So too the other systems of the body : the
respiratory system, the brain and the other systems, all of
them work during one's sleep and rest. What causes
trouble to the heart or the brain is exhaustion not work.
Thus rest does not mean refraining from work completely, it may sometimes mean changing the kind of work. That is why rest in French is called "recreation", which means "to create again" as when the mind creates one thought after another.
Concentrating on one thought exhausts the mind.
So, when one gets tired of concentration, one ought to
move to another thought. The mind is always thinking,
but it gets tired of deep thinking on a certain subject for a
long time and needs to leave it for sometime to return to
it afterwards after having restored its activity.
Sometimes rest is connected with fatigue.
A person may need, for example, some
exercises to keep
his body healthy by activating it. Some people may
achieve this by walking or running. Fatigue may be
endured for physical benefit. However, what we mean is
fatigue caused by physical therapy, not exhaustion.
Fatigue between the self and the spirit:
Some sick persons may feel bad when they know their case is dangerous, but they prepare themselves for their eternity and thus feel the comfort of the spirit.
Therefore people ought not to deceive a sick person
making him think he is all right and entertain him with
worldly means so that he may feel comfort, because he
would neglect his spiritual life and eternity and may
Another example is to flatter a sinner by
saying he is right
to give him peace of mind but in fact you cause him to
perish, because he will not rebuke himself nor repent.
The same goes with respect to flattering those in higher
positions or spoiling children. Here we give an important
If you cannot rebuke a sin, do not justify it.
By justifying the behaviour of sinners, you participate in their responsibility.
Jezebel encouraged Ahab to oppress Naboth the
Jezreelite and take his vineyard, thus making him pleased,
but she damaged him spiritually and deserved the same
Likewise a person who lies to get out of a critical
situation, feels peace of mind but causes harm to his spirit. Also a person who swindles to attain some
purpose gains the same result.
He who does not examine his conscience and rebukes
himself for his sins feels comfort of mind but leads
himself to perdition. Worse still is the person who tries
to justify himself to feel comfort, for such comfort is false
Among the cases of harmful rest is the case of a person who gains his own rest at the expense of the fatigue of others.
Such rest is a kind of selfishness and self-affection and
lack of love for others. A person in this case gives
comfort to himself while his spirit is burdened with faults.
Some persons have no external reason for fatigue but
fatigue comes from within them, from the concerns of the
heart, anxiety, suspicions, fear and pessimism.
Everything that happens to them causes them trouble;
they are the cause of their own fatigue not others.
A person may endure physical fatigue to clear his conscience or spirit.
Martyrs and confessors, for example, endured many torments to the body in order to have clear conscience for being steadfast in faith.
Another example is the torturing endured by St. John the Baptist when he was put in prison and finally his head was cut off, because he testified to the truth and confronted the King saying, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (Mark 6:18).
A similar example is the exile of St. Athanasius the Apostolic for defending the creed against the Arians.
Likewise, Joseph the righteous man endured prison to
keep his conscience clear and pure. He said, "How then
can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
Pastors also endure such fatigue of the body.
They endure so that people might be in comfort and also to clear their conscience that they are performing their pastoral work.
This applies to whoever takes the way of sacrifice, giving and being honest in their work. Such a person may feel tired physically but feels peace of mind, and comfort in spirit for performing his duties. He does not seek his own comfort but that of others.
Also the student who works hard, has a clear
with regard to his career and this makes him happy in
spite of fatigue because he achieved peace of mind.
Likewise all those who struggle in fatigue
and hard work
for the purpose of achieving a goal, just as a poet once
said, 'To achieve what great souls want, bodies must
Even in spiritual struggling, a person should labour and fight a good fight to clear his spiritual conscience and to make his spirit rest in God. Therefore the Apostle said rebuking, "You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin" (Heb. 12:4).
However, there are some people who tire their bodies and their spirits at the same time.
So, a spiritual person labours for the sake of
righteousness, while a sinner labors in vain. Such vain
labour resembles that of devils in their temptation of
Fatigue in the field of ministry:
A minister labours to clear his conscience and give comfort to others.
And as the Apostle says, "each one will receive
reward according to his labour" (1 Cor. 3:8). Thus St.
Paul laboured in ministry for edifying the kingdom and for the salvation of the people.
A minister who does not labour physically for the sake of his ministry, will not feel comfort spiritually nor cause comfort to those whom he serves.
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