Rest, Resist, Repeat
by Robby Higginbottom
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-11
God rested. Let’s slow down for a second. GOD…rested. One more time. God…RESTED. Have we ever wondered “Why?” Why would God rest after finishing the work of creation (Genesis 1:31-2:3)? Almighty God rested to rejoice in the goodness of all that He had made. That would be reason enough, but what if there’s more? What if God didn’t rest because He needed it, but because He knew that we would? At creation, God established a rhythm of work and rest for our good. When Moses shared Genesis and Exodus with the Israelites—freshly delivered from slavery in Egypt—they would have jumped for joy to learn about a day of rest. Why does God’s gift of rest not seem like a gift to many of us? Rest forces us to pause from the work that often defines us. It invites us to be a human being instead of a human doing. Rest knocks us off the throne and asks us to consider Who should really be there.
Do we rest? At the beginning of a new season, many of us already feel it—the pace quickening, the anxiety growing, the exhaustion coming. We think we’re falling behind if we can’t do everything and be everywhere. The temptation is to work harder and to do better. Friends, can we see the impact of this battle in our lives? Do we remember that we have an enemy who is real, who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Do we realize that we are someone? God’s word consistently reminds us that a spiritual battle is never won with human strength. Translation: Our work and our weapons are not going to win this war. So what will? It sounds crazy, but here’s the answer: rest. Peter says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6). James says, “Submit yourselves…to God” (James 4:7). Both writers highlight a strategy that seems counterintuitive. In order to move forward, we need to slow down. In order to get up for this fight, we need to get down on our knees.
Christians bear that name because they rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not first about what we will do for Christ. It is first about what He has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection. Christianity is not about us trying to win the victory. It is about what Christ has done—“It is finished!”—to win the victory for us. So often our struggles in the Christian life flow from trying to work for something that is already ours in Christ. His care is ours in Christ (1 Peter 5:7). A secure identity is ours in Christ. The fellowship of believers throughout the world is ours in Christ (1 Peter 5:9). His grace to restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us is ours in Christ (1 Peter 5:10). His nearness is ours in Christ (James 4:8).
Do we rest? As another season dawns, the Lord invites us to rest in the finished work of Christ. How do we do that? When we spend time alone with the Lord in His Word and prayer; when we gather with His people in corporate worship; when we come to table; when we connect with other Christians to grow in grace. As we rest in Christ together, He will form us more and more in His image, and He will give us grace to stand firm and resist the devil (1 Peter 5:9; James 4:7). Rest, resist, repeat.
Lord, as we start another fall, we humble ourselves under Your mighty hand, and we cast all our anxieties on You, because You care for us. Give us grace to rest in You together, to resist the devil together, and to learn to repeat this rhythm together. As we rest in You, make us steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for we know that in You, our labor is not in vain.