The Work of Casting Our Cares
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.(1 Peter 5:7)
First Peter 5:7 is a very familiar passage of Scripture to many of us, in fact it seems too familiar. Let’s go back then, and take a deeper look.
God cares for you! Not only will He never leave you- that’s the negative side of the promise- but He cares for your. He is not just there with you, He cares for you.
His care is constant- not occasional or sporadic. His care is total- even the very hairs of your head are numbered. His care is sovereign- nothing can touch you that He does not allow. His care is infinitely wise and good so that again in the words of John Newton, “If it were possible for me to alter any part of his plan, I could only spoil it.”
We must learn to cast our anxieties on Him. Dr. John Brown says of this verse, “The figurative expression ‘cast’, not lay, seems to intimate that the duty enjoined is one that requires and effort; and experience tells us it is no easy matter to throw off the burden of carefulness.” So we’re back to the matter of choice. We must- by an act of the will, in dependence on the Holy Spirit- say something such as, “Lord, I choose to cast off anxiety onto You, but I cannot do this of myself. I will trust You by Your Spirit to enable me to, having cast my anxiety on You, not to take it back upon myself.”
Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do as a Christian is to trust God fully with every part of our lives. The root of this difficulty lies with our perception and belief of God’s love. Although He repeatedly reassures us that He loves and has gone to great lengths to prove that love, our spiritual insecurity causes us to question and doubt that love. I realize that this stems from our human experience for we all have been let down by someone who declared their love for us and yet in a crisis did not seem to rise to the occasion of expressing that declared love with supportive action. We ourselves have declared our love for others only to find that our own selfishness often hinders us in proving that love in tangible ways. It is unfortunate that our view of God is filtered through our human experiences. What is needed is for us to ask the Holy Spirit to make known the love of God to us individually. I remember reading for years that familiar Bible verse that most of us can quote: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son….” I could conceive that God loved the whole world or that the love of God was universal. I could even see that God could love others, but when it came to me, as I looked at my life, I had a hard time believing that God could love somebody like me. I was sure He loved the pastor or the saints for they lived in a way that deserved His love; but for Him to love someone like me that constantly missed the mark was beyond my grasp. One day as I was praying, literally asking God to receive me even though I had received Christ some time ago, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Say John 3:16 out loud and when you come to the phrase ‘the world,’ substitute it with your name.” So I said John 3:16 this way, “For God so loved John Thompson that He gave His only begotten Son…..” When I said those words out loud, all of a sudden the overwhelming power of the love of God flooded my soul and as the flood of tears of gratitude ran from my eyes my heart was cleansed from the doubt of this being qualified to be loved by God. Today if that is your struggle to trust God to take care of your anxieties, may I encourage you to find a place and take the time and ask God to make His love for you known to you. Not just a mental acceptance of reading John 3:16 but asking the Holy Spirit to ignite that word in your spirit so that it becomes real and becomes yours. Ask Him to let it no longer be a genetic universal word but a personal word for you until you can say because you feel and know, “For God so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son.”
The second thing we must realize is that it is in our nature to worry and be anxious. Christ recognized this work of sin and Satan so He says to us:
25 “Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothes? See how the lilies and wildflowers of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin [wool to make clothing], 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory and splendor dressed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive and green today and tomorrow is [cut and] thrown [as fuel] into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What Jesus is asking us to do is when we are tempted to be anxious that we look at the flowers and listen to the little birds which are in God’s care and realize that if the God of the universe has time to take care of them will He not take care of His children?
Paul in Philippians gives us a strategy to put into action Peter’s instruction to; “Cast your care(anxieties, worries, fears) upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
The antidote, then, for the poison of anxiety is to bring every matter before the Lord by prayer and petition. In other words whatever is troubling your heart, go to God and have a conversation with Him about it. Tell Him how you feel, what you would like to be done. Speak freely of your fears and doubts and confusion. Say as Jehoshaphat said:
O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless against this great multitude which is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
2 Chronicles 20:12
Do you see the three things in this prayer? We are powerless against this thing that has caused our anxiety. We do not know what to do. Our eyes are fixed on you.
Paul then says commingle our requests with thanksgiving. In making our requests let them not just be complaints about our circumstances but let them be accompanied with a heart of thanksgiving as we reflect on all the times God has met our need and worked on our behalf. Paul says make this practice perpetual. It is not sufficient to bring the matter before God once or occasionally but consistently and constantly, daily and with intensity. The outcome of this prayer, petition with thanksgiving is not that God always instantly answers your prayer or changes your circumstances. What you receive is the peace of God that “reassures the heart, transcends all understanding and guards you heart and mind” against the foes of worry, fear and anxiety.
We have all heard the doctor say, “Go home, start this regimen of medicine, and you will begin to feel better. To you who are struggling with fear, anxiety and worry, may I urge you to go to your place of prayer and begin this regimen of prayer and petition with thanksgiving and receive the peace that passes all understanding, the gift of the peace of God. He loves you, He really, really does!
Dr. John Thompson