TIMES OF REFRESHING
Times of Refreshing
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Twenty-nineteen left our world fractious and volatile. It was a year of trials and difficulties for many. As we look back over the hardships of last year and look ahead to a new year, we read encouragement in Scripture about times of refreshing in the midst of our labors, hardships, and trials.
The Greek word for “refreshing” used in Acts means “to catch one’s breath.” Coming out from 2019, we sure could use time to catch our breaths after all the rage, anxiety, and hysteria of last year and the personal trials that many of us have endured.
But on a more fundamental level, we ought to realize we need refreshment from our everyday lives. Life is work. It takes effort to live in this fallen world—to get up in the morning, make ourselves presentable, and provide for our own needs. And for those with families, they work against loss and decay every day to support their loved ones and provide for their needs. Additionally, for Believers, we labor for the needs of our neighbors and we wrestle in prayer against spiritual forces that affect our lives and the lives of our neighbors spiritually and physically (Eph. 6:12).
God knows we need refreshment in the midst of labors and trials. He made us for good work—and even before the Fall, He instituted the mandate of the Sabbath, meant to be a “refreshment” from our labors: “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves” (Ex. 23:12), for “it is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed” (Ex. 31:17).
Man’s Fall into sin resulted in “futility,” as Solomon calls it—namely, that work does not result in any lasting value on this fallen earth, for “cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you” (Gen. 17b-18a). We’ve never needed to catch our breaths more!
We know from God’s Word that there will be no permanent rest from the effects of sin for this rebellious world until Jesus returns to restore it and then regenerate it. But we can pray now for times of refreshing from our labors and from the oppression of the devil.
Even the mighty apostle Paul knew the value of physical and spiritual refreshment from his labors and trials. He told the church in Rome that his desire was to “find refreshing rest in your company” (Rom. 15:32). And he praised those who refreshed their brothers and sisters in Christ and ordered that they be acknowledged for their ministry: “I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men” (1 Cor. 16:17-18).
Paul was thankful for the refreshment of the Body: “For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all” (2 Cor. 7:13). “For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother” (Phil. 1:7).
As we begin this new year together, let’s help one another to catch our breaths. And may we “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret...because of the man who carries out wicked schemes” (Ps. 37:7). May we all pray that times of refreshing would come to us from the presence of God—as the next verse says, “that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you” (Acts 3:20). Yes, come, Lord Jesus and give us true rest! Amen.