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American DreamControlCortisolRestSabbathStress

The Sisyphean Nightmare

By November 5, 2019No Comments

We are so driven to perform and succeed that we are driving ourselves literally insane with such a busy and crammed schedule. We are losing the purpose of our existence. We are the first generation, in 2000 years of church history, that is on the go, 24/7.

We seem to never rest. We don’t observe rest or quiet and are killing ourselves spiritually and physically. We over-plan, over-commit and multi-task.

In the Greek myth, Sisyphus is punished for his pride by being forced to roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down once it reaches the top. This endless loop is his fate for all eternity—and more or less describes the character of the false god of this world. Despite the promise of a platinum retirement, easy living and comfortable lifestyle, we’re never quite done earning it, paying for it or maintaining it.

If you worship the American Dream, you may never awaken from your Sisyphean nightmare.

Non-stop Stress and Cortisol

The result is non-stop stress and an epidemic of sicknesses. Our body never knows when or how to shut down and rest. The results are endocrine disorders and adrenal insufficiency. Doctors are saying that the physical consequences are devastating to our health.

Our body never knows when the next stop day is coming and continues to send out fright or flight stress hormones. When we are under stress for long periods of time, our bodies produce the stress hormone called cortisol.

Cortisol over production contributes to a host of medical problems including: diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, acne, depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, digestive problems and memory and concentration impairment, to name just a few. We are killing ourselves.

But God made us to need rest and quiet. The most revered of the 10 Commandments and the most repeated throughout Scripture and the most ignored is the taking of a sabbath rest. Even God rested after creating the heavens and the earth (read Genesis 1-2).

God’s Rhythm

Our bodies and our minds were made for quiet rest. God made us to need restful breaks from activity. The only place in Scripture where we are told to “strive” is to “cease striving and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10, NAS). In my own words, “Stop trying to manufacture the outcomes in your own life and in the life of others.” It’s a verse about giving up control.

We can’t control the way most people think about us. We can’t control our outcomes, but we can control how we respond and choose to live our lives on this earth. I don’t know about you, but I want to stay in the rhythms of God’s life for me. This doesn’t mean we cease all activity; that would be impossible. But it means that we must find the rhythm of rest in the midst of our activity.

For me, it means that I have to be super careful of what I take on and how and when I rest. It means we wake up from the nightmare. In my next blog, I’ll talk about how to sabbath.

Waking up to rest,


Steve Holt M.A., D.D.

My newest book, Worshipper Warrior, can be found at