Hurried lives. Packed schedules. Limited sleep. Did God intend for us to live at such a frenzied pace?
Many people today suffer from hurry sickness. This is “a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency” (dictionary.com).
If you are constantly trying to add one more thing to your multitasking skills—such as eating lunch, talking on the phone and checking on your latest email or text messages all at the same time—you likely have it.
If you are quickly frustrated by having to wait in line to purchase something, regularly irritated by traffic not moving fast enough, and habitually interrupting people who are talking, you likely have it.
If you have bought into the modern philosophy that every minute of your life has to be filled with some fun or exciting activity, you likely have it.
If you don’t have any spare time and have this persistent feeling that you need to do more, faster, you likely have it.
In short, just about everyone either has hurry sickness or experiences some of its symptoms on a regular basis. It seems to be the norm in this modern world.
Unfortunately, hurry sickness isn’t just a buzzword or psychobabble. Hurry sickness is real and has consequences.
For example, insufficient sleep has become a serious problem. The headline of an article by Ian Johnston, science correspondent for The Independent, succinctly states: “‘Catastrophic’ lack of sleep in modern society is killing us, warns leading sleep scientist.”
In his article Johnston reports that the problem is “widespread in modern society. … Electric lights, television and computer screens, longer commutes, the blurring of the line between work and personal time, and a host of other aspects of modern life have contributed to sleep deprivation, which is defined as less than seven hours a night.
“But this has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and poor mental health among other health problems. In short, a lack of sleep is killing us.”
Of course, the lack of sleep and its consequences know no national boundaries. Reporting on the U.S.-based Entrepreneur website, Anne Fisher writes, “Eventually, hurry sickness really can make you sick, since it increases the body’s output of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system and has been linked with heart disease” (“Too Busy to Think? You May Suffer From ‘Hurry Sickness’”).
Lack of sleep is a major cause of accidents and deaths on the highway. In the U.S. “the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers” (CDC.gov, “Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel”).
Experts generally advise people dealing with hurry sickness to exercise, to prioritize their time and to eliminate the things that needlessly use it up. While these remedies can undoubtedly help, perhaps we should also consider what our bodies are telling us and some ancient advice.
Chronobiology—the branch of biology concerned with natural physiological rhythms and other cyclical phenomena—has found that we humans have internal biological clocks. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that refer to our daily routines. We tend to do certain things at the same time every day. For example, with the possible exception of weekends, we generally get tired at a set time and wake up at a specific time each day.
Surprising to many, our bodies also have seven-day cycles. In his book Proof Positive, Neil Nedley, M.D., writes: “Just as the body has a natural daily clock (circadian rhythm), it also has a weekly clock (circaseptan rhythm) … body rhythms that run about seven days in length.
“Medical research has demonstrated such rhythms in connection with a variety of physiological functions. Some that have been identified included heart rate, suicides, natural hormones in human breast milk, swelling after surgery, and rejection of transplanted organs.”
As for some of the more obvious seven-day cycles, “weekly rhythms appear easiest to detect when the body is under stress, such as when it is defending itself against a virus, bacterium, or other harmful intruder. For example, cold symptoms (which are really signs of the body defending itself against the cold virus) last about a week. Chickenpox symptoms (a high fever and small red spots) usually appear almost exactly two weeks after exposure to the illness” (Susan Perry and Jim Dawson, The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal, p. 21).
Since the rhythm of life for us humans includes circaseptan cycles, we’re faced with a number of intriguing questions. Are these seven-day cycles just a quirk of our existence? Or are they the fingerprints of our Creator? And more specifically, does God have any instructions for us that harmonize with our body clocks and temper hurry sickness?
God’s seven-day plan for mankind
When we turn to the Bible to see how our present world and humans were created, we find it encapsulated in a seven-day period of time. The first chapter of the first book of the Bible outlines how during six days God refashioned the earth and created mankind.
“And on the seventh day God ended 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).
By resting on the seventh day, God was setting an example for humans.It is interesting to note that in addition to blessing and sanctifying the seventh day—designating it as special and different from the other days—God also rested on this day. Of course, it wasn’t because God, who is all powerful, had become tired (Isaiah 40:28). By resting on the seventh day, God was setting an example for humans.
The weekly Sabbath was not designed by God as an arbitrary restriction or punishment for mankind. Instead, it “was made for man” the day after God created humanity (Mark 2:27; Genesis 1:24-31; 2:1-3). It is God’s gift to mankind.
Immediately after creating us, God established a day for us to rest from our physical labors. When we observe this day, our bodies have a 24-hour rest during every seven-day period of time. It’s a weekly opportunity for our bodies to rejuvenate and counteract hurry sickness.
Does the day matter?
Some recognize the benefits of resting one day in seven, but assume that it doesn’t matter which day of the week we choose to rest. After all, our circaseptan cycles don’t necessarily align with the seventh day of the week. We can catch and end a seven-day cold on any day throughout the week.
So does it matter which day we use to rest and worship God? Muslims worship on Friday; Jews, on Saturday; and most professing Christians, on Sunday.
Actually, it does matter. Resting and worshipping God on Saturday—the seventh-day of the week—has spiritual meanings that can’t be found by resting on any other day of the week.
Meaning of the seventh-day Sabbath
Here are three of the reasons the Bible reveals for observing the seventh-day Sabbath:
- Resting on the seventh day of the week reminds us that God is our Creator and that He blessed and sanctified this day. The last part of the Sabbath command notes: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). This is the day God rested upon, and He has sanctified no other day for this purpose.
- Resting on this day reminds us that God is our Deliverer. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, they had to work whenever their masters decreed. In connection with the command to observe the Sabbath, the ancient Israelites were reminded: “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there; … therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15). This day of rest reminded the ancient Israelites that God had delivered them from a situation in which they couldn’t rest. Today God is still delivering people, only now it is from the bondage of sin.
- Observing the Sabbath on Saturday anticipates our eternal rest with God. Decades after the death of Christ, the first-century Christians were still observing this day. After explaining that there is a future rest for the people of God, the author of the book of Hebrews notes: “There is still a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9, Bible in Basic English).
Friday doesn’t have these meanings. Neither does Sunday. Only Saturday has these rich, spiritual meanings.
So do you need a rest? Absolutely! We all need a weekly rest. And the best way to get in sync with the needs of our bodies and to honor our Creator is to keep the seventh-day Sabbath—a blessing He gave to us. Here’s to the end of hurry sickness and better relationships with our Creator as we keep His Sabbath holy!
Sidebar: Mistaken Predictions About Leisure Hours
“In 1930, John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that within a century, economic growth would mean that we would be working no more than 15 hours per week—whereupon humanity would face its greatest challenge: that of figuring out how to use all those empty hours” (Oliver Burkeman, “Why Time Management Is Ruining Our Lives”).
Isaac Asimov, the well-known science fiction writer, likewise made an interesting prediction in 1964 about how much leisure time humans would have by 2014. He correctly predicted advances in technology, such as self-driving cars and the use of nuclear power, but he also prognosticated that people would be suffering “from the disease of boredom” (David Pogue, “Asimov’s Predictions From 1964: A Brief Report Card”).
As it has turned out, all of the advances haven’t led to nothing to do. Instead, many now feel their lives are too busy.
Over 2,000 years ago, the prophet Daniel was given a glimpse of what “the time of the end” would be like. Daniel 12:4 says that conditions at this critical point in mankind’s history will be such that “many will rush around, while knowledge increases” (International Standard Version). Bottom line: Life isn’t going to be boring as we come to the end of this present age!
Sidebar: Should We Worship on Sunday to Honor Christ’s Resurrection?
Protestant churches teach sola Scriptura—Latin for “Scripture alone”—meaning that the Bible is to be their supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. Unfortunately, most Protestants meet on Sunday and thus do not adhere to this when it comes to observing the weekly Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, as the Bible commands. (Catholics observe Sunday because they mistakenly believe they had the authority to change the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday.)
Instead of following the Bible’s instruction to worship on the seventh day, Protestants say they meet on Sunday to honor Christ’s resurrection. This contention is misguided in several ways:
- Christ did not rise from the grave on Sunday morning. When the women came to His tomb early Sunday morning, they found that He had already risen (Matthew 28:1-6). He actually rose late Saturday afternoon. For further details, see “Sign of Jonah: Did Jesus Die Good Friday, Rise on Easter?”
- God, in the pages of the Bible, never sanctions a move from Saturday to Sunday and never sanctifies another weekly day for worship other than Saturday. Christ forcefully rebuked those who followed the commandments of men rather than the commandments of God (Matthew 15:9).
- The Christianity Jesus founded already has a practice that reminds us of and makes us deeply grateful for Christ’s resurrection. When we are baptized, we are symbolically “buried with Him through baptism into death” and “if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:4-5).
There is no scriptural basis for worshipping weekly on Sunday. Doesn’t it seem strange that the commandment that begins with the admonition remember (Exodus 20:8) is the one many professing Christians—both Protestant and Catholic—forget?
To learn more about the day God sanctioned for worship, see the video and articles in the Life, Hope & Truth section “The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day.”