Sabbath is a day set apart from everyday. Getting you out of the endless cycle of wanting more, endless things to do and always being in a hurry. Sabbath is about taking time to reflect on our yourselves, reflecting on God’s amazing love and power. Being thankful that we are here for eternity and do not need to rush because our Father will take care of it. Sabbath should help promote a more balanced lifestyle taking time to decompress.
There are very limited studies done on Sabbath, unfortunately it is a tough one to study. The christian group most diligent with their practice of sabbath also follows strict dietary guidelines making it hard to tell where all their positive health benefits stem from. I did find one study on 13 practicing Jews, with the individuals mentioning improved feelings of mental well-being. Although some people felt more worry on their Sabbath because they had nothing distracting them (Dein & Loewenthal, 2013). This brings up an excellent point.
Sabbath is a time to slow down, but those emotions finally have the time they need to creep up to the surface. Not taking a sabbath may make that day easier, but that worry, guilt, and shame are still lurking deep in the surface. This is a common experience for someone beginning to incorporate a Sabbath into their life. It is not easy, but dealing with those thoughts, feelings and emotions are important. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5) God wants us to reflect and remove impurities from ourselves. He created this rhythm of life to allow us holy time to reflect and become more like HIm.
"By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:2-3) He blessed a day for us to rest. We do not need to constantly achieve, we are His children and loved without accomplishing anything.
God made observing the Sabbath a part of the Ten Commandments, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:18-21) God in His wisdom, knew what His people needed and knew that He needed to command a group of people not to work for one day to escape from their slave mentality.
“And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. “ (Luke 13:10-13) Sabbath is made for people. It is a day of healing and worshiping the Lord.
I am new to practicing Sabbath and I highly encourage you to try it. It probably will not be like what you expect and it definitely requires planning, but it is worth it! It will effect your entire week, making preparations and getting everything done. Sabbath is blessing and based on biblical wisdom, it is not about legalistic rules, it is about honor and being in relationship. You may need to start small, just a couple hours block off or it may just be a big learning curve, do not fret about having a “bad” or “unholy” Sabbath, learn from it and adjust. You will probably need some boundaries for your Sabbath possibly including no TV, no cleaning, no laundry, no cell phone, no social media to make more room for things like journalling, painting, knitting, puzzles, reading, outdoor activities, naps, leisurely walks, deep conversations, prayer, worship.
Sabbath helps you to not be conformed to the world while trusting in God and spending the day resting and restoring your body.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
All Bible verses are NASB
Dein, S., & Loewenthal, K. M. (2013). The mental health benefits and costs of Sabbath observance among Orthodox Jews. Journal of religion and health, 52(4), 1382-1390.