The Divine Contradiction
by Skip Heitzig
The world is full of oxymorons (not just morons). I’m sure you know that an oxymoron is a phrase consisting of words that seem to contradict each other, like: airline food, government organization, jumbo shrimp, or freezer burn.
Allow me to challenge you with another oxymoronic phrase, this one a little closer to home. Here it is: Dare to rest.
It sounds strange, doesn’t it? I mean, a dare implies doing something daring — that there is some element of danger or risk involved. But why would you have to dare someone to rest? Here’s why. Somebody who is stressed out, a worrier, or an over- committed, workaholic, pedal-to-the-metal manager type is a person in desperate need of a break. Hence the challenge to slow down, pull over, and rest. Likewise, someone who is hearing bad news about the future, going through a painful time, also needs the exhortation to rest.
Why would you rest, though? Why wouldn’t you do something about all the problems in your life, in the world? To a certain extent, it’s good to care about your community and what’s going on around the world. But I’m not saying to do nothing. I’m saying, dare to rest. Dare to trust that God will keep the world spinning while you take a breather. Because, really, when you rest, you’re showing that you have hope. Resting in God’s plan demonstrates hope in God’s purpose. You’re saying to yourself, to the rest of the world, and even to God, I trust that God is in control, that He is good, that He will do what is right.
Daniel the prophet was a man under stress. Having been given divine information about the future and bad news about his people, he had good reason to be consumed with worry from a human standpoint. Worry is commonplace — it’s normal; it’s the status quo. To defy that normal tendency, to rise above that level to a place of rest, is the Christian calling. Jesus said that when He is in control of your life, you “will find rest for your [soul]” (Matthew 11:29).
Study after study has revealed the correlation between resting in hope and managing stress. Spirituality is the best medicine for anxiety. Truly! It has been noted that “people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life.” These are folks who quit trying to control things by themselves. They know where’s Someone greater who is enacting a grander plan and purpose. The hope generated by such faith reduces stress and produces and inward calm. It can even decrease the average recover time of hospitalized patients!
We live in a day and age when people are more stressed out than ever before. The average person is filled with anxiety, agitated by economic, social, and moral developments in this world. Some of us struggle just to get by week by week. Then you hear of what’s going on in the Middle East and see turmoil, violence, and uncertainty filling our own country. Honestly, it makes you long for relief, for someone to come along and fix it all and make everything right, doesn’t it? The very thought that such a thing is possible gives you hope.
And do we ever need it. Not only has there been a recent resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe, but there is also a growing hostility toward Christians here in America. While believers are vilified in the media and increasingly marginalized in the marketplace, other Christians are being persecuted and martyred elsewhere in the world. But this is nothing compared to what is coming. I believe history is heading for a climactic intersection with prophecy. The book of Revelation describes a seven-year period known as the Great Tribulation when God will unleash His wrath on this rebellious planet. It will be an unprecedented time that will turn life as we know it into a hell on earth. During this period, one who is called by many names, but typically known as the “Antichrist,” will rise, becoming a world leader. And his regime will force every human alive to worship him. Filled with a seething hatred for Christ, the Antichrist will spill the blood of all those who choose to trust in Jesus for salvation.
“But wait,” you may be asking. “What does this have to do with Daniel?” Simple. There are significant portions of the book of Daniel that are prophecies dealing with the Antichrist, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming of Christ (as well as His first coming). Essentially, the entire second half of the book of Daniel is devoted to these apocalyptic visions. So for Daniel, knowing both about his people’s upcoming suffering as well as what takes place at the end of days could have potentially played a huge burden of anxiety on him. IT would be hard to hear and hard to live with that knowledge. But
Daniel was comforted by what radio host Paul Harvey used to call “The Rest of
the Story.” And the rest of God’s story is that He wins in the end — and His people are the winning team. It was this crowning truth that brought Daniel to unload the burdens consistently to God in prayer, releasing his worry to Him. Only one word can fully describe such a response in the face of such uncertainty: hope. Daniel had hope because God promised that, in spite of all the hardship to come, things were going to work out.
And it’s the same for us today. Remember what Jesus said in the Upper Room at the Last Supper, when the confused disciples were distressed about His prediction of impending death? Jesus wanted them to see beyond the immediate prediction and be comforted by the ultimate prediction — His return in glory and the heavenly home awaiting them (John 14:1-3).
[Called one of the best Bible teachers in the country by Franklin Graham, Skip Heitzig is the founder of Calvary Albuquerque, which ministers to more than 15,000 people.]