One of the funniest skits I have ever seen is a Mad TV skit by Bob Newhart. A woman comes into his psychiatric counseling office to get help with her claustrophobia, and his solution to her problem is two words: “Stop it!”
I feel a bit like that when I read 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Easier said than done! Can anyone out there just “cast all [not some of] your anxiety on him”?
The verse always struck me as a type of impossible legalism. The voice in my head says, “Just do it.” Just give your worry to God, and if you don’t, you’re somehow failing or worse, you’re a bad person.
It’s difficult for me to let go of my anxiety because my “spiritual gift” is worry. I can find more creative ways to worry than anyone I know, and it has been a central task in my spiritual life to learn how not to worry. After all, worry exhibits a serious lack of trust in God and a misunderstanding of his caring love. As one person told me, “Worry is virtual atheism.”
As is often the case, part of the solution is to read the verse in context. Actually, in Greek, verses 6–7 are one sentence and therefore need to be read together. The first step is to “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand” (verse 6). What does that mean?
The act of humbling ourselves involves coming to a right understanding of who God is, and who we are in Christ. The God of the universe, he who made and sustains all things, is as loving as he is powerful. He loves us with a ferocity that we simply can’t even begin to fathom. He deeply cares for us.
“Cast” is actually a participle (“casting”), not an imperative. It is describing what can happen as we humble ourselves. Coming to know God in deeper ways leads to a sense of humility, which in turn makes it easier—in fact, almost natural—to trust him. How blissful it must be to go through life with a detachment from the worries of life.
But I suspect the process is a bit cyclical. As we cast our worries on God, we will come to a deeper and deeper understanding of who he is and who we are, and that should lead us to a more profound sense of humility and willingness to continue trusting his loving care.
In these days of COVID-19, we have the opportunity to show God we love him, we trust him, and we rest secure in his arms. Let’s not insult him by worrying, by acting as if he doesn’t exist or care for us. Casting our cares on him all starts with the right understanding of who God is and who we are as individuals in his sight based on the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
By Dr. Bill Mounce
Bill is the founder and President of BiblicalTraining.org, serves on the Committee for Bible Translation (which is responsible for the NIV translation of the Bible) and has written numerous Greek resources including the best-selling biblical Greek textbook, Basics of Biblical Greek. He speaks and blogs regularly on issues relating to trusting the Bible, the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus), Greek and issues of spiritual growth.