Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever, and the family asked Jesus to help her. He bent over her and spoke harshly to the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and served them. – Luke 4:38b-39 (CEB)
If you and your buddies come to my home and I’m lying in bed, so sick that I require divine intervention, don’t expect me to make you some snacks as soon as I feel better. Just let me rest. I need time to recover.
The unnamed mother of Simon’s wife was given no such respect or respite after her healing, but “got up at once and served” Jesus and the crew.
Maybe she did this to show gratitude or to demonstrate full recovery. Or maybe she was obligated, pressed into service by a first-century grind culture that was just as toxic and misogynistic then as it is today.
In a culture that equates one’s productivity with one’s worthiness, rest and recovery are sometimes seen as weakness and laziness, punishable by loss of income or reputation. We are permitted brief rest so we can be useful (or used!) again.
“The Nap Ministry” founder Tricia Hersey teaches that rest for its own sake is an act of resistance. It is also a means of reclaiming yourself and reconnecting with yourself, others, and the Divine. Rest reminds us of our worthiness, unconnected to our usefulness.
So please take a rest.
Not so that you can get back to the grind, not because you’ve “earned” it, but because you are always worthy of it.
Let me let myself rest, Divine Healer. Not so I can be useful again, but because I am worthy of it.
Chris Mereschuk is an Unsettled Pastor in the Southern New England Conference with a call to transitional ministry.