My 60-year-old patient had survived a very aggressive malignancy and was now two years out from a bone marrow transplant. I asked him what God had taught him through his ordeal and there were many lessons he mentioned. One statement especially caught my attention, “I had been working two jobs to get ahead. I know that our immune system is weakened when we are worn out and that may have contributed to my getting cancer. I think God was telling me, ‘I hadn’t intended it this way.’"
I know of no evidence-based science that would attribute this man’s cancer to his over-working. But he was right (for many of us) regarding our work habits when he said, “God didn’t intend it this way.”
Now, I personally believe in working very hard for my patients. I don’t believe God is disappointed with doctors who work 60-hour weeks. But there is definite truth in this patient’s statement. God means for us to work hard, but He also has planned for us to rest.
To work and to rest; to work and to rest.
God’s cycle of work and rest has been present since creation. Some of us at times feel we can defy that cycle in order to move ahead of the curve in worthwhile endeavors. We pay for it with fatigue, a loss of joy and a loss of creativity---and those we love end up paying as well, with the distance that develops because of the self-focus that always comes with over-work.
Occasions will come---each of us will face short periods of time where we must bail a sinking ship or complete a residency training. At these times, we cannot avoid pushing ourselves beyond our limits. God is faithful and will work beside and through us during these times. But such circumstances should be rare and never part of our usual life.
God has a plan: work then rest; work then rest; work then rest.
Let's not be stupid and choose another.
Help me to examine my life and put within it the cycle of rest that you intended.