Keeping the Sabbath—Is It a Blessing or a Burden?

Blog September 29, 2020

Sabbath is a happy day, happy day, happy day,

Sabbath is a happy day; I love every Sabbath.

Do you remember singing this song when you were a child? Or maybe you taught it in Children’s Sabbath School? This song puts a smile on our faces no matter how old we are because it has a very happy tune. We teach our children that Sabbath was given to us as a special gift from God so we could spend time with Him and worship Him. How do you feel about the Sabbath? Is the Sabbath a blessing to you or a burden? Do you see it as a gift to you or as just another command to keep?

Adventist researchers were curious about how Adventist church members worldwide feel about the Sabbath. During the 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS), they asked questions regarding Sabbath-keeping.

Based on the results of the survey, it seems that Sabbath-keeping becomes more important and more appreciated as we get older. When survey participants were asked to respond to the statement, “When I keep the Sabbath faithfully, I cope better with stresses of the week,” the majority answered that they agreed or strongly agreed. While it is very encouraging that 80% of adolescents (age group up to 20) agreed with this statement, the percentage rose as people’s age increased by almost 10 percentage points, totaling 90% by the age of 36 and older.

GCMS 2017-18 Q38.1, n=6,891 (up to 20), n=16,763 (21-35), n=20,046 (36-54), n=12,455 (55+)

When the participants were asked to respond to the statement, “If I didn’t keep the Sabbath, I would get a lot more done,” more than half of the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed. While 53% in the age group up to 20 disagreed with this statement, the percentage increased by about 23 percentage points as people’s age increased, totaling 76% by the age of 55 and older.

GCMS 2017-18 Q38.3, n=6,786 (up to 20), n=16,487 (21-35), n=19,556 (36-54), n=11,824 (55+)

Similar results were attained when the respondents were asked to respond to the statement, “I find it stressful to be forced to take a break on Sabbath from what I need to get done.” Only about two-thirds (61%) of adolescents disagreed with this statement, while in the age category of 55 and older, 76% of the participants disagreed that they found it stressful.

GCMS 2017-18 Q38.6, n=6,807 (up to 20), n=16,524 (21-35), n=19,527 (36-54), n=11,828 (55+)

As we become older and more mature, we realize that providing for our needs and the needs of our families can become quite stressful. Managing work, school, and children can become overwhelming at times. Bills, employers, deadlines for work or school projects do not care about our taking a day off to worship God. At times, being exposed to such stressful situations can take the joy out of the Sabbath. Despite our living situation and the stress that comes with it, God gave us the Sabbath to rest and worship Him.

GCMS 2017-18 Q38.2, n=6,891 (up to 20), n=16,763 (21-35), n=19,895 (36-54), n=12,455 (55+)

As people were asked to respond to the statement, “Keeping the Sabbath is part of who I am, not something that I do because I have to,” more than three-quarters of adolescents agreed with this statement. Similar to the other responses, the percentage increased with age by 22 percent points, totaling 91% in the category of 55 years of age and older.

Could it be that as we make a commitment to God and accept His gift of the Sabbath, God literally blesses us in return? Is it possible that Sabbath-keeping changes us because we spend time with God on the day He set aside?

“And He said unto them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath’.” ( Mark 2:27 KJV)

Jesus stated clearly that the Sabbath is a special gift from God to us. Our heavenly Father wants to take away our burdens, our stress, and our pain, and He wants to be with us on this special day. He cares about us, He offers His help, and He wants to bless us.

When we accept His gift, the Sabbath, we accept a special invitation from Someone who chose us, Someone who accepts us the way we are and loves us. It does not matter whether we love Him back; He is someone who understands our deepest fears, our loneliness, our brokenness—things we like to hide from other people. Jesus truly wants to spend time with us. Do we want to spend time with Him?

As church leaders, pastors, and teachers, let us not only present Sabbath-keeping as an important commandment for us to obey, but let us point to the joy and peace that the Sabbath can bring to our lives.

May Sabbath be the “Happy Day” we sang about in Children’s Sabbath School and may it be a blessing to all of us.

For more information on 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS) go to the Meta-Analysis Report.