Have you heard the old, one-liner joke that asks, “What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches?”
Can you guess?
The answer is….
A nervous wreck.
Of course, we know a nervous wreck can be found anywhere. A mother tending small children. A student taking an important test. A businessman trying to keep his small company solvent. A daughter caring for a sick, aged mother. A wife worried about the faithfulness of her husband. A father concerned for a rebellious son.
All of these share the common problem of anxiety. Worry. And stress.
In one of the great verses of the Bible, the apostle Peter exhorts his readers to “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” Then he offers this challenge filled with a comforting promise,”casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7)
The word “anxiety,” translated “cares,” in other versions means “to be drawn in different directions.” Anxiety does that. It distracts our attention. Distorts our focus. Divides our loyalty. Disrupts our progress.
The answer and antidote to life’s anxieties is two-fold: (1) Humble yourself before God. (2) Cast all your cares on the Lord. A prideful person says, “I don’t need anyone. I can handle this myself.” You may for a while. But eventually you will face a challenge too big for you to deal with.
Some cares are physical. When our bodies are weakened by suffering, sickness or pain, it raises our level of anxiety. Will we get better? Will this ever go away? Are we going to die?
Some cares are emotional. When we are discouraged, dismayed, or demoralized, it causes an emotional anxiety that may lead to depression or despair. We wonder what is wrong? Why can’t we get over this? Where do I turn?
Some cares are relational. When those we love ignore us, hurt us, or betray us, our spirits become disquieted, our hearts troubled, and our minds apprehensive. We worry about the future? Will this hurt heal? Can this rupture be repaired? Will this relationship be restored?
And there are many other moments of anxiety in our lives. Financial. Vocational. Social. And, of course, spiritual.
While others can help, and the aid of a professional may be enlisted to offer their unique kind of care, Peter reminds us not to overlook the obvious. God! He is near. He hears. He feels. And He cares.
At one point in King David’s life, he was burdened with so much anxiety that he lamented: “There is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul” (Ps. 142:4). Have you ever felt like David?
So what did David do? He did what you and I need to do in times of trouble.
“I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.” (Ps 142:5-7)
Are you anxious? Worried? Stressed? Fretful?
Turn to God. Cast your burden on Him. Listen to His Word. Talk to Him in prayer. And He will provide peace that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:6-7). Through Christ, He will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Pet 5:10-11).
Don’t allow your anxiety to keep you down. God is there to lift you up. In His time.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman