I needed nine hours of sleep Monday night.
I was irritable and I was dragging, thanks to a fitful night of sleep the day before. I woke up the next morning feeling less frustrated, and one of my first thoughts (after “Are my eyes swollen shut? I can’t see.”) was how thankful I was for rest. Sleep had proven to be just what I needed.
A time to let burdens go and to be restored.
If you’re like me, you are prone to think when you read things like that, “I don’t have time to rest.” And if you are like me, I then direct you to the fourth commandment:
“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 you 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.”
I’m not getting into whether New Testament believers are supposed to keep the Sabbath, here. What I’m hoping to draw your attention to right now is the principle: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth… and rested on the seventh day.” What’s the principle? God did not need to rest but did; how much more should you who do need to rest do so? God, the Creator, rested; how much more should His creatures rest?
Embedded in that principle is a slap right to the face of my pride: I am not as important as I think I am.
Can I give your pride a slap? Brace for it, if you like.
You are not as important as you probably think you are.
If you have been redeemed by grace through faith in Jesus, then you are probably more valued than you imagine but less essential. I mean, few of us esteem the blood of Jesus as highly as it deserves, and so few of us who have been born again probably really get just how highly God prized our souls. God did not spare His own perfect, precious Son in the plan of His elect’s redemption. But on the flip side of that coin, this is His universe, and it is being worked together for His purposes. So while the called out people of God are intimately treasured, our skills and sweat will not be the deciding factor in practically anything. Therefore, God has no anxieties about commanding us to rest. His plan for creation will turn out just fine.
We are supposed to work hard, but as those who are being worked in, and as those whose works were prepared for them beforehand. We are to work hard, but we are also to rest in our God.
We are to rest in Jesus.
Jesus’ peace is enough to quell our anxieties. His promise of eternal life is enough to still our fears of death or earthly ruin. His love of sinners is sufficient to give us hope for the troubled people we worry about.
I know sometimes our burdens seem great. I know stress can feel white-hot, and that the pain of bankruptcy, a dying parent, an unknown prognosis, being laid off, a family member’s unfair hatred, or a seemingly inexplicable depression can be a sort searing and agonizing. But the Jesus who wept with the sisters of Lazarus at his tomb is also the Jesus who made it so the three of them could share dinner together later. He knows our pains, but He is also the Author of their greatest remedy.
Jesus calls us to great, meaningful, Gospel rest in Him.
Christians work. But we work for the Creator and King, the One brings all things together for His good ends. And as such we can sleep easily.
We are used by God because He is pleased to use us, not because we are intrinsically essential. He is in control. And knowing that makes both the work and the rest sweeter.
“Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest…”
From Hebrews 4