If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. (Mark 13:36)
Shortly after Jesus urged his disciples to keep watch, he found them sleeping on the job. In Gethsemane, at perhaps his most vulnerable moment, Jesus’ friends let him down. Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts state simply that the disciples fell asleep at this crucial time because “their eyes were heavy” (Matt. 26:43, Mark 14:40), but Luke’s version offers deeper insight: “He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow” (22:45, emphasis mine). They must have been so emotionally drained—mentally strung out, spiritually spent—that their physical bodies had no choice but to shut down.
If you’ve ever slept through an alarm, an important lecture, or a crucial appointment, you can probably relate to the exhaustion Jesus’ disciples experienced. This level of fatigue surpasses laziness or apathy; it is complete weariness and heaviness of soul that paralyzes even the best of intentions. How can we avoid falling into such a state?
God gave the Sabbath to us not only as a gift but also as a way to check our tendencies toward workaholism, consumerism, extremism, and despair. Being watchful includes knowing appropriate ways to recharge. Jesus did not run his disciples ragged; he called them to places of solitude and rest (see Matt. 11:28–29, Mark 6:31), and he himself occasionally withdrew from the crowds (see Matt. 15:39, 16:4; Mark 6:32; John 8:59). Following these actions will pay off.
Develop a sustainable rhythm of work and rest.
Laura Hurd is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church and holds a master’s degree from Wesley Seminary. She co-pastors with her husband, Jason, in rural Nebraska.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.