Why Taking A Vacation From Your Problems Doesn’t Work

In the movie What About Bob?, Richard Dreyfuss plays the role of egotistical psychiatrist Leo Marvin. On the heels of the release of his book Baby Steps, Dr. Marvin relishes in his recent success…until he meets Bob Wiley, a new client (played by Bill Murray). Wiley, however, isn’t your normal patient. His relentless personality and multiple fears drove his previous psychiatrist to a nervous breakdown. But after his initial consultation with Dr. Marvin, everything seemed remarkably better. As their session comes to a close, Marvin promises to see Wiley after he returns from his family vacation.

But true to his relentless personality, Wiley tracks down Dr. Marvin on vacation.

The video above relays what happens next.

So what does Dr. Marvin prescribe to his patient? A vacation from his problems.

Bob Wiley takes the recommendation to heart—and decides to vacation with the Marvins. Hilarity ensues.

Taking a vacation from our problems sounds so enticing. But is it good advice?

Please join us for our daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Ezekiel 3:16-6:14
Hebrews 4:1-16
Psalm 104:24-35
Proverbs 26:27

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Ezekiel 3:16-6:14. The prophet Ezekiel was exiled to Babylon in 597 B.C., eleven years before Jerusalem was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies, which made him a contemporary of Daniel. Ezekiel was highly educated and displayed a broad degree of knowledge regarding international affairs and history. He also often acted out his prophecies, which made him appear a bit strange. Archaeologists have verified the many dates in his prophecies. Incidentally, Babylon was located in modern-day Iraq.

Ezekiel’s strange behavior can be explained though. God held him responsible for obediently relaying his prophecies. If he didn’t speak God’s messages, he would be liable for the people’s sin and destruction (Ezekiel 3:16-21).

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Think about it. Does taking a vacation from your problems solve anything? Unfortunately, following Dr. Marvin’s advice does as much for your problems as an evening of binge drinking or a shopping spree:  your problem greets you when you return. In fact, your vacation can appear—and often does appear—in the form of a variety of addictions. Taking a vacation from your problems is nothing more than disengagement from reality. It’s a form of numbing the pain, which acts as temporary relief. How do you sleep at night? How do you find solace in the middle of a crisis? And how do you live if the crisis continues?

A better solution must exist, because all of us need to sleep at night.

Yesterday, the writer of Hebrews warned us not to harden our hearts in the time of testing (Hebrews 3), which is another form of taking a vacation from our problems. For a little more insight into hardening our hearts, you might want to read our October 25 post.

In Hebrews 4, we’re called to enter God’s Sabbath rest. The writer recalls that on the seventh day of creation, God rested. In fact, biblical scholars point out that on the first six days of creation, morning and evening take place. But on the seventh day, no mention is made of evening. God’s rest continues to this day.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9–11 (italics added)

Whose example are we told not to follow? The Israelites who hardened their hearts when they encountered a hardship. They took a vacation from their problems.

Instead, God invites us to enter his rest. Entering God’s rest means trusting that God is in control.

In fact, if God has been at rest since the seventh day of creation, then his work is already finished. The weather, world affairs, even the affairs of your life have already been set in motion. What happens next in your life is really a rerun—like watching a rerun of What About Bob. Better yet, it’s like watching a rerun of a sporting event. You may not know the score, but the winner has already been determined, so you don’t stress out so much. In our case, we’re watching the rerun for the first time, but we benefit from knowing who wins.

When you live in God’s rest, you can sleep at night (without medication!) and enjoy peace during the day. It doesn’t result from disengaging, it results by engaging in God’s rest and trusting that you can trust God not only with eternal life, but your everyday life as well.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How do you take a vacation from your problems?
  3. According to Hebrews 4, can believers miss out on God’s rest? What prevents them from entering into it?
  4. How could the last three verses of Hebrews 4 bring you peace?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Why Taking A Vacation From Your Problems Doesn’t Work

  1. elna

    As a farmer in South Africa, a waterscarce country, I have asked what was the Israelites supposed to do instead of grumbling about no water. I found my answer in Numbers 21:17. The Israelites sang a song of praise. Just like Paul and Silas, and King David, we need to spend time praising God in our hardship instead of hardening our hearts and turning away from God…. Now I only need to put it into practice :)))

  2. It looks like a theme of Scripture. Great insight Elna!

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