Hebrews 4:3 (ESV)
For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Real rest cannot be found based solely on our own efforts. No one I have met was ever able to boast that they had achieved complete rest in their lives. Instead it seems that calamity is mostly the norm in this world. Rest seems so close, so easily to obtain, but more often than not it quickly flees away.
One thing that I have discovered is that rest is only available to those who have faith, or as the book of Hebrews describes: “we who have believed enter that rest”. A rest out of this world, only made possible by the merits of Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28).
Adversity will still rise during our lifespan and will try to shake us in our faith, but when standing steadfast and trusting solely in our Maker, we will remain unfazed in His rest. After all, Jesus promised that He would guide us in all things. Why worry, when we have the Almighty One on our side? Didn’t God guarantee us that "He (Jesus) is able to help those who are being tempted" (Heb 2:18b)?
In October, 1862, Private Pliny Fisk White joined Company E, 14th Vermont Infantry, and officially became part of the Civil War in the United States. He had an unfortunate turn of events on July 3 at Gettysburg. His right arm was completely shattered by a shell and it had to be amputated. A simple procedure we may think, but not so in those days.
Private White was well cared for and was recuperating nicely. Everyone was sure he would go home soon. But even with all of the excellent care, the unexpected happened: Pliny, 25 years of age, died at 10:00 in the morning, on August 5, 1863. He left behind a grieving widowed mother and younger siblings.
A nurse named Francis Bell, who had tended the dying young man, wrote the following note to his mom: “[Pliny] desired the minister assigned here to pray with him. It was done, and afterward as I talked with him on the subject of religion, he seemed to regret, as we often do, that he had not been able to live better since he had been a soldier...Jesus was precious to his soul, and he was reconciled to his lot, so amenable and good that we almost envied him his happiness.”
How could this be? Pliny was dying, yet he was completely happy, totally at rest. He met the worst calamity that could ever happen to anyone with a smile. Why? Because he had faith in the One who had promised him eternity!
Amidst Pliny’s belongings at the time of his last battle, a letter was discovered, written to Lemira, a female friend. “My Dear Lemira. The chances are very favorable that today we shall go into battle . . . I am ready and willing to go into battle and trust myself in the hands of Him who is our only trust. Though I do not fear, yet it may be that if I go into battle this may be the last time I shall write to you . . . I would like to see you but as I cannot I thought just a word would be better than nothing. I love you as ever and think of you often, and if we meet no more on earth, I hope I shall be worthy to meet you where there will be no more parting.”
Only faith in our Heavenly Father can give such assurances. Pliny went to battle in complete inner rest, as he knew that no matter the outcome, he had nothing to fear.
Do we truly believe as this young man, far away from family and friends, who died peacefully?
We, too, can experience such rest amidst adversities! If we completely rest in the Lord.
Dear Lord, We thank You for the perfect rest that only comes from You. Help us not let the things around us that happen take us from Your rest. In The Name of Jesus, Amen.