Every person reading this devotion has personally experienced anxiety. Anxiety is a common result of living in a sinful world. God knows that all people face anxiety. He assumes anxiety is a part of our human condition. There is a lot of anxiety in America this week regarding our 2016 election.
I love how Peter addresses anxiety. We see his vocation as a fisherman displayed in the way he describes what to do with the emotion of anxiety with which we all find ourselves constricted. He uses an old fisherman’s term—casting. He tells us: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). This statement is made at the conclusion of some other advice he gives to all Christians about submitting to others, being humble, trusting God’s mighty hand—basically the selflessness Christ demonstrated to us. It’s as if he knows this advice would naturally produce anxiety.
Peter’s advice for overcoming anxiety is bold and irrational. He says: Got anxiety? Cast it over to God. This is easy enough said, but how do you do it? When I feel anxious, I find myself obsessively pondering the subject of my anxiety. My mind acts out the scenarios I believe must happen to resolve my problem or the ones I fear I must face if things don’t go my way. My anxiety over uncertain situations seems to constantly agitate like a washing machine that constantly churns with no off in sight. Peter’s admonition seems the correct solution, but how do I accomplish the casting off of cares?
First of all, I must believe in the remedy. I must believe as Paul suggests that the reason I cast my cares on God is because He cares for me. I must deeply believe in God’s care. Anxiety turns over and over, constantly attempting to find a way to resolve the unpleasant state in which I find myself. It is only the thought of God’s care that could turn my mind away from the anxieties that come along with living in this world.
Once I establish my hope in God’s care, there comes the idea of casting the anxiety that plagues me. I may decide it is worthless to ponder it over and over, but how do I stop? There is something very bold and decisive about casting away anxiety. Turning anxiety over to God is a challenge for us humans, but it wonderful when accomplished. One way I do this is through the Jesus Prayer—Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. I cast away my anxious thoughts by praying this prayer repeatedly. At some point, I find that I have stopped obsessing over my anxieties and have come to the place of honestly trusting God’s care for all my concerns. I believe in His mercy for whatever I face.
There are other times when anxiety can be more difficult to cast away. Another tool that I use is to think of the worst possible situation that could happen in the context of whatever I find myself feeling so anxious. The next question I ask myself is how can I survive that? It steals away the power of the obsessive scenarios that plague my heart and mind.
The presence of anxiety is a message from God. It tells you that your heart can turn to Him. It reminds you that there is no possible positive outcome if the outcome depends on you alone. The good news is that the outcome depends on the care of God, and indeed He cares for you.
Whatever may cause you the greatest anxiety today, let it remind you that God cares for you! Allow your anxiety to lead you to God’s care.