When a Migraine Taught me about the True Meaning of Rest

I have a confession to make- I have in the last couple of months developed a small trauma over my days off. That’s because every Monday since the start of the year, something bad happens, and it has become my new normal.

Some Mondays I get a terrible flat in the middle of nowhere, other Mondays a home appliance breaks down, other Mondays Ces or I am forced to take care of a work or family crisis at a terrible time. What’s supposed to be a day of rest and sabbath has become for the majority of the year a struggle to have a struggle-free day.

This week’s sabbath was no different. It started with a text message from our BIR examiner that our house purchase, which has been in process for almost a year now and has turned into what seems to be an unbearable odyssey, was delayed for the gazillionth time.

Aside from that, I was still recovering from a slight food poisoning and on grocery day when the fridge is full of all my favourite food! (The blessings and curse of being married to a wife who loves and feeds me endlessly)

But what really made me crack was a mother of all migraines that struck me pretty early in the morning. I tried to sleep it off twice, but it just got worse every time I woke up. Late in the afternoon, I was still managing my migraine while left alone with my hyperactive and easily bored three-year old. I confess to letting her watch cartoons the whole morning to leave me alone. Yeah, I’m a terrible father.

In the middle of all of the anxiety, suffering and loss of control, I was lying on my bed thinking to God, “Instead of giving me a day to worship and spend time with you, you give me this?” I could feel the blame start shifting around while I was holding a throbbing temple struggling not to throw up. And at that moment, I got a reply from the Holy Spirit through the buzzing in my brain.

“So why don’t you worship me?” said the Holy Spirit.

“Are you kidding? With this migraine? With all these problems?”

“I remember one time that you managed to work through a migraine. Why can’t you worship through one? When has struggle ever stopped you from seeking me before?”

At that moment, I had no more excuses. I put on some worship music and started praying. Within seconds, I felt an electricity enter me almost instantaneously. Next thing I know, I was on my knees sobbing like a baby unable to control the tongues coming out of my mouth. It was amazing. Throughout my moment with God I was whispering praises and thanksgiving to Him and God was lavishing me with His presence.

I could still feel the migraine, but through it I was on the floor with my hands up lifted to heaven for the next hour. The rest of the day, I still had a migraine, but I also had the peace, joy and rest of the Lord.

I was reminded of a valuable lesson I have learned before but always seem to forget- the valuable truth of praising God in the middle of the storm. I hope I don’t forget it this time around.

We think that Jesus’ call to us in Matthew 11:28 to come to Him and lay down our burdens at his feet is a one time deal. It’s not. It’s something we will have to do on a regular basis. In this world, we will have tribulation (John 16:33) and it’s going to come in new waves again and again and again.

We think that Jesus’ call to us in Matthew 11:28 to come to Him and lay down our burdens at his feet is a one time deal. It’s not.

It’s kind of like Plants vs. Zombies. When you’re done taking out a huge wave of zombies, another much bigger wave with scarier zombies that can now jump, run, vault and dance start coming out. Our problems seem so much like those annoying zombies- they just keep coming!

But as they come, Jesus calls us once more to lay them down at His feet. When problems seem to keep coming, it’s easy to come up with excuses to just skip the “laying down” habit thinking “What’s the point? There’s just going to be more tomorrow.” But this should compel us all the more to continue laying our burdens at the feet of Christ. There is no limit to how much burdens we can lay at His feet.

Jesus never said “Come all who are weary only once a week,” or “Come all who are weary, but just give me your spiritual problems, not your financial problems.” He says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We can come lay every burden at the feet of Christ anytime and in any circumstance. It doesn’t matter if you just failed to lead, if you think some sin has disqualified you from the presence of God or if you have a terribly unbearable migraine. As you come, Jesus opens His arms and His Holy Spirit will come and give you rest.

If we wait for perfect sabbaths, perfect lives, perfect songs, perfect podcasts or perfect opportunities to worship God, we’ll never come to Him in worship. But as we worship God through the storm, we learn a new meaning of rest- one that comes in the midst of trial.

If we wait for perfect sabbaths, perfect lives, perfect songs, perfect podcasts or perfect opportunities to worship God, we’ll never come to Him in worship.

I am reminded of Peter when he was imprisoned and sentenced for trial by Herod. Acts 12:6 tells us, “Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers.” At this time, James had just been executed, and on the very night Peter was to be tried and probably killed too while he was chained and between two guards, all he could do was sleep. Are you kidding me? If I were in Peter’s place, I’d be up all night.

But in the middle of all the trial, Peter felt the rest of God come upon Him so much so that not only was his soul at rest, his mind, heart and spirit was too. That’s the kind of rest God wants us to have. Maybe your rest days have been like mine have been the whole year. Guess what? I’ve come to accept that that’s life. We’re going to have terrible times, but even in those moments, Jesus has already overcome everything and our whole being can find rest in him.

Rest is never determined by the quality of the day or moment, but the quality of the person you fellowship with as you rest. Well guess what? Jesus is as gold and quality as it will ever be so you can rest immensely and intensely.

Come to Jesus when you are most worked up and heavy laden, and watch Him still give you the sweetest rest ever.

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