God rests. He also reflects.
I have heard several sermons present a case for the Godly nature of rest, pointing out that from the beginning, God set aside time to relax after work. Yet there is another layer to His period of rest that I rarely hear discussed, namely His assessment of His work. Throughout Genesis 1, the author records that as He ended each day of work, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, 1:21, 1:25). After completing His work in its entirety, God surveyed all He had created, “and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Then, “God rested from all His work that He had done in creation” (Genesis 2:3) on the next day.
It is quite easy to become entrapped in an endless cycle of productivity, an even more enticing trap in cultures such as Harvard’s that are driven by achievement and subsequently lead to burnout. We forget to slow down, make time for restful activities, and take care of our psychological and physical needs. God Himself, however, halted work to rest from His toil, an intentional distancing from the work consuming His days. If the perfect Creator of the universe does not work constantly without rest, neither should we. It is, then, of the utmost importance that we leave time for restful, restorative activities.
Vital, also, is time left to pause for reflection. We furthermore forget to engage in intentional evaluation of our actions and work. People tend to reside in one of two camps regarding their work, neither of which allows for self reflection. Some believe that nothing they do is ever good enough, that they must continue striving for perfection until there is not a single item amiss in their lives. Conversely, others refuse to see their own mistakes, believing they already are perfect. God does not rest in either of these camps.
God’s acknowledgement of the goodness of His work throughout creation is a clear indication that we, as humans made in His image, were created to pause and recognize the fruits of our own labor as well as the faithfulness of God through that labor. We ought to appreciate how far we have come and reflect positively on what we have produced. God’s work was not finished each day when He stepped back to recognize its goodness—indeed it had only just begun when “God saw that the light was good”—yet He still chose to pause and acknowledge His creation. Similarly, we ought to pause in the midst of our chaotic obligations in order to cherish our memories, our accomplishments, and our God.
Reflection should not be perpetually positive, however. Though God does not make mistakes, even He is open to building upon His work. After creating Adam, God stated that “it is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18) and built from Adam’s flesh the first woman, Eve. If a perfect God is willing to reflect on and improve His work, how much more should we, as broken humans, be willing to honestly evaluate ourselves?
Before even reaching the second page of the Bible, it becomes clear that as humans, we were designed to both rest from and reflect on our work. God sets a clear example of this design from the inception of our world. As the year starts, it is vital that we remember to carve out time to continue living in a healthy, Godly cycle of pauses and stops characterized by reflection and restoration.
Emma Kate Price is a sophomore in Leverett House studying Mechanical Engineering and Astrophysics