These are the initials of a popular restaurant chain: Thank God It’s Friday. It is a clever, succinct way of capturing what Friday means in the American culture: rest, relaxation, time off, free time, freedom to do what I want. It’s understandable why the term weekend has been identified as an immediately recognizable American term quickly absorbed into other languages. It stands for a standard of living that is considered “American”, and represents the good life.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Except that it makes the counter initials, T.G.I.M., ludicrous, unintelligible and really uninviting because they mean: Thank God It’s Monday. Who in their right minds would regard Monday as something for which to be grateful? Monday is the epitome of work, of the grind, of getting back into the rigid routine of the work pattern. No one likes Mondays, so why be thankful for Mondays?
One reason is God’s example. He got all His memorable creativity done on weekdays, starting with Monday (really, a Sunday on the Hebrew calendar). Creation was a six day project for Him. The seventh day, the Sabbath, was His day of Rest. While we are grateful that God rested on the Sabbath, and, at its approach, see the merit of exclaiming T.G.I.F., we have to admit that, upon reflection, the bulk of our gratitude lies on the side of the six work days in which God engaged, days in which the beauty, grandeur and majesty of God’s creativity captures our fancy and imagination: the glory of the heavens, the undulating waves of the seas, the magnificence of the towering mountains and the expansiveness of the vast deserts, the gorgeous wildlife in the air, on the land, beneath the seas—these didn’t emerge on the Sabbath but during God’s workweek.
Chances are that God didn’t work so that He might get His day off, but, rather, He took His day off so that He might work better. We notice that Jesus, during His time among us, went about the Sabbath rest in an interesting way: some of His most memorable activities took place on the Sabbath, despite His recognizing it as a day of rest, because, as He said in defense of Himself: “…it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Mt. 12.12) This was not the only time Jesus was criticized for “working” on the Sabbath. It shows His prioritizing work over rest when it was a question of doing good. In such cases He had a Monday mindset more than a Friday one.
This is not to criticize the Sabbath rest, but to appreciate it in the context of the “big picture”. We rest so as to work better, rather than working so as to rest better. The weekend is an interlude between workweeks, rather than the workweek being an interruption between weekends. We are co-workers and co-creators with God, rather than co-resters with Him, at least in this life. It has become part of our mindset. How many retired folk tire of time hanging heavy on their hands, and either go back to work, at least part-time, or else involve themselves in volunteer “work”. It seems to be a part of our pattern, a consequence of God’s rebuke to Adam: “In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life…By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread…” (Gn 3.17, 19). This is our destiny here below. But up above, another scenario presents itself to us, leading us to pray for those who have gone before us: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them”. There at last T.G.I.F. takes priority over T.G.I.M.