God’s Word doesn’t mince words. Sometimes the truth hurts. But it also mercifully, joyfully, frees.
Lately, the Lord has been using several merciful truths from this familiar passage to give me some joyful freedom.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:6-7, NAS)
Ok, quick grammar lesson. If you’re like me, you tend to put a period after verse six. In fact, many Bible translations do. In the original Greek, however, these two verses form one sentence. I believe they are meant to be connected, and for a surprising reason.
Truth #1: Exalting myself is at the heart of my anxiety.
Ouch. This one hit me hard, because I knew it was true. It’s called Pride, and it’s Ugly. When we’re anxious, isn’t it because deep down we want to be in control of a situation? We fret and worry in vain attempts to secure the outcome that seems best to US.
Time for another grammar lesson. The command in this sentence is “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Why? Because HE is GOD and I am NOT. Pride exalts myself, deceiving me into thinking that I know best. Humility surrenders self and yields to God’s sovereign control.
Truth #2: Casting my cares on Him is an act of humility.
Some Bible versions translate verse seven into the imperative: “Cast your cares upon the Lord…” But in the Greek text this verb isn’t in the form of a direct command.* Casting our cares upon Him is how we demonstrate the command to humble ourselves. The NET renders it like this:
…humble yourselves under his mighty hand BY casting all your cares on him… (Emphasis mine)
Bible teacher Beth Moore sums it up this way:
The act of humility is in the casting. The pride is in the keeping.”**
One final grammar lesson. The verb for “casting” was “used of casting garments on a beast of burden.”* Luke 19:35 contains this same Greek verb, and gives us a helpful word picture:
So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. (NLT)
The disciples threw (cast) their garments on the colt, and Jesus rode on them in triumphal procession. When I cast my cares upon Jesus, I’m getting off of my high horse and allowing Him to take His rightful seat as King. I give Him my worries and admit my inability to control my situation. I say, “Jesus, be Lord over this. Jesus, please ride in triumph over this.”
Truth #3: Believing God cares for me is a place of rest.
As I cast my cares upon Him, I am comforted, because He cares for me. He. Cares. For. Me. Say it. Believe it!
Everything He does is motivated out of His love for us and for those we love. Instead of fretting about the outcome, we can actually, amazingly, rest. Because He genuinely cares and truly knows best.
This is changing how I pray. I no longer feel compelled to convince God that He should do what I think needs to be done in a particular situation. Instead, I pray something like this:
Lord, You know I’m worrying about _________. I confess my pride, my desire to play God here. I humble myself by casting my concerns upon You, because You are God. You alone are capable of handling this. I am not built to shoulder this burden, but You are. You are Almighty God, Creator, King. So I give it to You. You know what is best. I know You love me, and You also love _________. Instead of worrying about this, I will rest in the reality of Your love and care.
What welcome relief this brings!
Now whenever I feel anxiety rising, I try to remember to stop and acknowledge my pride. I’m learning to humble myself by casting my cares upon the Lord, letting go of my need to be in control, affirming that He is Able and I am Not. I’m resting in His loving care for me and for those I care about.
Yes, the truth can hurt. Pride and anxiety hurt too. But these merciful truths are beginning to set me free.
*From a study of 1 Peter 5:6-7 called “Counsel Concerning Our Cares” by J. Hampton Keathley, at www.bible.org.
**From her excellent series, “The Basket Case,” which was the main inspiration for this blog post. If you’d like to watch it, go to www.tbn.org. Look for “Living Proof with Beth Moore” in the “Video Archives.”
An Important Note: I wanted to share these biblical truths because they were helpful to me in my own struggles with worry and anxiety. I am aware that some of my brave friends battle more severe, chronic anxiety. I commend them for seeking professional help and encourage anyone who may be dealing with this to do the same.