A New Way To Think About Rest

Work Rest Repeat

A New Way To Think About Rest

October 29, 2020

For years I lived my life at full throttle, burning the candle at both ends. As a worker bee, I believed in the sanctity of work. So much so, I tended to identify rest with laziness.

Thankfully, this is not God’s position.

The first time we see the idea of rest in the Bible is in Genesis 2:2:

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (ESV)

The Hebrew word translated as rest, shabath, means to cease, desist, or rest. 

Have you ever wondered why God rested on the seventh day? Was He tired? Did He need to rest? Consider the following passage:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
     the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
     his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint
     and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
     and young men shall fall exhausted; (Isaiah 40:28-30 ESV) 

God didn’t need to rest, because He never grows weary. But He modeled it for us, because we do

As we continue through the Bible, we see rest again, this time listed fourth in the ten commandments:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-10 ESV)

As we move into the New Testament, we see Jesus instruct His disciples to rest:

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:31 ESV)

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as rest, anapauó, means to give rest, to give intermission from labor, or by implication, to refresh.

Finally, Jesus promises rest to those who come to Him:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

Clearly, God esteems the value of rest. He modeled, commanded, instructed and promised it. 

Yet even today, I struggle to embrace rest. Maybe because it goes against my human nature. I don’t believe I am alone in this. Benjamin Franklin once said:

He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.

Taking time to rest is hard.

Science, however, backs up the need for rest. Neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta noted our lack of rest leads to “America’s hidden epidemic”, overstimulation. This in turn causes stress and prematurely ages our brains. 

A short list of the benefits of rest include:

  • Reduces stress which boosts our immune system
  • Restores mental energy
  • Enhances creativity
  • Strengthens our ability to focus
  • Improves short-term memory
  • Increases job satisfaction and productivity

Resting from work to talk with friends, to read, or to watch an entertaining movie are some examples of what refreshes me. Rest may look different for each of us, but it is essential to all of us.

Although the fourth commandment calls for a day of rest (the Sabbath), I believe the intent, especially as seen in the New Testament, calls for us to balance work with rest.

As I continue down the road, I pray to honor the One who calls me to find my own rhythm of work and rest. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you are able to do the same.

A New Way To Think About Rest

October 29, 2020

Work Rest Repeat

For years I lived my life at full throttle, burning the candle at both ends. As a worker bee, I believed in the sanctity of work. So much so, I tended to identify rest with laziness.

Thankfully, this is not God’s position.

The first time we see the idea of rest in the Bible is in Genesis 2:2:

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (ESV)

The Hebrew word translated as rest, shabath, means to cease, desist, or rest. 

Have you ever wondered why God rested on the seventh day? Was He tired? Did He need to rest? Consider the following passage:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
     the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
     his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint
     and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
     and young men shall fall exhausted; (Isaiah 40:28-30 ESV) 

God didn’t need to rest, because He never grows weary. But He modeled it for us, because we do

As we continue through the Bible, we see rest again, this time listed fourth in the ten commandments:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-10 ESV)

As we move into the New Testament, we see Jesus instruct His disciples to rest:

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:31 ESV)

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as rest, anapauó, means to give rest, to give intermission from labor, or by implication, to refresh.

Finally, Jesus promises rest to those who come to Him:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

Clearly, God esteems the value of rest. He modeled, commanded, instructed and promised it. 

Yet even today, I struggle to embrace rest. Maybe because it goes against my human nature. I don’t believe I am alone in this. Benjamin Franklin once said:

He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.

Taking time to rest is hard.

Science, however, backs up the need for rest. Neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta noted our lack of rest leads to “America’s hidden epidemic”, overstimulation. This in turn causes stress and prematurely ages our brains. 

A short list of the benefits of rest include:

  • Reduces stress which boosts our immune system
  • Restores mental energy
  • Enhances creativity
  • Strengthens our ability to focus
  • Improves short-term memory
  • Increases job satisfaction and productivity

Resting from work to talk with friends, to read, or to watch an entertaining movie are some examples of what refreshes me. Rest may look different for each of us, but it is essential to all of us.

Although the fourth commandment calls for a day of rest (the Sabbath), I believe the intent, especially as seen in the New Testament, calls for us to balance work with rest.

As I continue down the road, I pray to honor the One who calls me to find my own rhythm of work and rest. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you are able to do the same.

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2 Comments

  1. Bobbie Perkins on October 30, 2020 at 3:09 AM

    I LOVE this post and so needed that! I’m guilty of equating rest with laziness, too! Thanks for the reminder that God’s will is for us to rest.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on October 30, 2020 at 3:38 PM

      Thank you for your kind words, Bobbie! I often need this reminder too! ????

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