Expect To Be
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.(1Peter 5:6-7)
The immediate connection of the thoughts in 1Peter 5:6 should be encouraging to us in times of adversity. On the one hand we’re to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand- submitting with a spirit of humility to his sovereign dealings with us. On the other, we’re to cast our anxieties on Him, convinced of His care.
The anxieties, of course, arise out of the adversities that Gods mighty hand brings into our lives. We’re to accept the adversities but not the anxieties. Our tendency is just opposite.
The way to cast our anxieties on the Lord is through humbling ourselves under His sovereignty, then trusting Him in His wisdom and love. Humility should be both a response to adversity and a fruit of it. Paul was clear that the primary purpose of his thorn in the flesh was to curb his tendency to pride(2 Corinthians 12:7). If Paul had this tendency to pride, surely we do also. Therefore, we can put it down as a principle. Whenever God blesses us in any way that might engender pride in us, He’ll also give us a “thorn in the the flesh” to oppose and undermine that pride. We’ll be made strong in some way through one or more adversities in order that we might recognize that our strength is in Him, not in ourselves.
We can choose how we’ll respond to such a thorn in the flesh. We can chafe under it, often for months or even years, or we can accept it from God, humbling ourselves under His mighty hand. When we truly humble ourselves before Him, we’ll in due time experience the sufficiency of His grace, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.(James 4:6)
The big question that arises in adversity is where is God and what is He doing in this? Adversity brings us to a crossroads in our relationship with God. We recognize that He always has the power, should He choose to exercise it, to remove all the adversity from our lives. He will do that one of these days as He gathers us with Him in eternity for Scripture tells us of the place He has prepared for us where there is no more suffering nor sorrow nor struggle for all those things will disappear. In this life Jesus told us that we ought to expect to have adversities. He told us that though we were in the world, we were not of the world and just as He had experienced adversities so would we. Adversity calls into the question of the love and care of God. Far too many find themselves turning away from God in adversity. Their faulty logic reasons that if God truly loved them then He would deliver them from any adversity and make their lives into exactly what they wish it to be. This was the logic that the Israelites used in the wilderness for their idea of God was that His role was to be their tool that delivered them from Egypt, to provide their need at every point of need, and to ultimately bring them to a land that they could claim as their own. They seemed to have little use of God other than Him being their servant. Because of this, they found themselves complaining and murmuring at every step on the journey. It seems they found something to accuse God for at every turn. We must ask ourselves why God continually allowed adversities in their lives. Was it to punish them for their attitudes? Was it in retaliation for their conduct? There are unfortunately those who would say that this was the reason. However, that would place God at a human level with human responses and He is far above that. The Bible says that He was trying to bring them to understand their need for Him and to learn to trust His wisdom and care. This is what the adversities we experience are designed to teach us. God never allows anything to destroy us. Oh our bodies may suffer, we may not love the “perfect life”, every day may not be Friday and there might be a whole lot of Monday’s but the very same God who gave His Son for us will not allow adversity to overcome us.
The lesson of adversity is that we are not as strong as we think we are and at the end of the day, we need God. Paul tells us that the lesson of the “thorn in the flesh” was that “grace is sufficient” and “in our weakness, His strength is made complete.”
In the words of an old song we are: “Learning to lean, learning to lean, I’m learning to lean on Jesus. Finding more power than I’ve ever dreamed, I’m learning to lean of Jesus. May every adversity you are experiencing bring you to the place where you cast your anxieties on the Lord, trusting in His love and grace, drawing from His strength and grace and knowing that all He allows in your life will in the eternal plan of God grow you more into His image. To humble yourself simply means to bring your struggles to the Lord in prayer, wait for His answer and trust in His love. May God give us all grace to do so.
Dr. John Thompson