rest: a four-letter word

When my little brother was in elementary school, my mom found a list tucked away behind the books on his bookshelf – a white piece of paper, with blue Crayola writing.

It was a list of four-letter-words. Yes, that kind of four-letter-word.

Now, most kids would have reacted with some mixture of nervousness, guilt, and shame. Then again, my brother was never like most kids. No, he looked from my mother’s horrified face down to the list in her hands and asked, “Did I get all of them?”

Oh, to be eight…

Thankfully I don’t think he’d “gotten all of them” at eight years old. But one four-letter-word I am certain his list did not contain was the word “rest.”

In our culture today, “rest” has most definitely become a four-letter-word… full of negative connotations – sloth, laziness, unproductivity.

We want to be constantly on-the-go – doing, creating, achieving. We’re always wanting more – more money, more status, more stuff.

Yes, God wants us to work. Yes, He wants us to create…

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” – Proverbs 13:4

But He also wants us to stop, to take a break, to rest…

I’m as guilty as anyone of assigning negative connotations to the word “rest.” I often feel that overwhelming unrest in my soul that I am not doing enough. But then I am reminded…

“I’m restless until I rest in you.” – Audrey Assad, Restless


“In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.”– Charles Spurgeon

Scripture tells us…

“In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength.”– Isaiah 30:15

Notice it doesn’t say “in frantic chaos” is your salvation. Or “in running around constantly” is your salvation. In repentance and rest…

I’m trying to retrain my brain to think of rest as a different four-letter-word: “gift.”

“the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you.”– Exodus 16:29

“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.” – Hebrews 4:9-10

If God Himself, the creator of the universe, almighty and all powerful – who needs no rest – rested on the seventh day? Well, then I should think I need to as well.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” – Genesis 2:2

Did you know that there is actually a thing in Japan – they made up their own name for it: Karōshi. It means “death from overwork.”

We were not created for overwork. We were created for work. And we were created for rest.

However you may find rest – my prayer is that you would take it and view it as the gift that it is. And that you would remember that you are not alone in attaining it.

“He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to the land.”– Jeremiah 50:34

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