Monday, January 15, 2024

            Anxiety can be a challenge for some people.  Maybe you are one such person.  Those who battle with anxiety generally know when the level is rising and equally know the things that can trigger a rise in those levels.  Anxiety is nothing new.  It has been around for about as long as people themselves.  Peter spoke about anxiety.  In his own words, Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).  It would be easy to suspect that Peter himself dealt with anxiety and considered those battles as he wrote this letter.  Serving alongside Jesus, his denying any relationship with Jesus three times, his own imprisonment, the weight of leading the early church and the mandate of preaching the gospel were not easy endeavors.  And Peter was human—just as human as any one of us.  We are inclined to put him on some sort of pedestal but he was frail and failed just as any one of us is today.  I suspect he would not have put himself on a pedestal.  He could write about anxiety and God’s help in dealing with it because he had walked that road.  There are some truths in his words that can bless and encourage us today.
            First, Peter acknowledged the reality of anxiety.  The only way that we begin to address anxiety is by seeing it and recognizing it for what it is—a reality that some people do have to face.  His word for anxiety means “cares” or “worries.”  It can mean something that weighs heavily on one’s mind or chest.  Imagine a large weight that has been placed on you that seemingly does not move or go away.  Anxiety can feel that way.  Someone has suggested that anxiety may be this sense that we can or must manage our cares by ourselves.  Rather than placing our confidence in ourselves, we are told to have confidence in the Lord to manage the anxiety that we bring to Him.  
            Second, Peter used the word “cast.”  He instructed us to “cast all your anxiety on Him.”  The word “cast” means to throw.  We can imagine casting a line while fishing.  We can imagine a quarterback casting a perfectly thrown pass to his receiver for a touchdown.  To cast is to take action.  No one can cast our cares or anxiety upon the Lord except us.  We have to do this.  We have to choose to give those cares we have to Him.  And when we cast the cares upon Him, we trust Him to handle them and to do what is right.  This same message can be found in the Old Testament too.  We read, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).  If you think of David, God chose him to be the successor to Saul as King of Israel.  David never pressed the issue or tried to force the timing to take the throne.  He patiently trusted God to keep His promises at the right time and in the right way.
            Third, Peter gave us a promise to trust.  He wrote, “He cares for you.”  God cares.  God loves.  God’s grace is sufficient.  God does not change like the wind or the weather.  We can know and believe that He cares for us.  God protects us.  Nothing ever comes into our lives that is outside of His providence and capacity to use for our good and His glory.  Jesus gave us these words of encouragement, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7).  If God knows the hairs on our head (and He does), then He surely cares for us.  If God cares for the sparrows and birds of the air (and He does), then He surely cares for us even more.  When you have a hard day, simply remember that God does care.  Turn to Him in prayer, open His Word, trust this promise and rest comfortably and confidently in His care for you. 
            Fourth, Peter teaches us to humble ourselves before the Lord.  We have to recognize that only God is God.  We are not God.  We are not divine in any way.  Given our humanity, it would be wise to lean upon the Lord and to release our circumstances to Him.  We often have to remind ourselves that we are not in charge or on the throne of the universe.  But we can rest safely in the arms and protection of the One who is.  To be humble for the Lord may mean reflectively reading His Word, recalling special promises that you have marked in the Bible, praying to Him as you might talk with your best friend.  To humble ourselves also requires action on our part.  It does not happen without effort and intentionality.  But the rewards that follow are amazing.  Have a great Monday! 

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