For the last month or more, 1 Peter 5 has been a theme in my life. And last week I began to write about five words that really stood out in this passage, focusing on verses 6-11. These five words are the action words for us, things we are to do or give to God. The five words we’re going to explore are humble, cast, watchful, resist and suffer. Last week we worked through a little bit on the humble piece. Today, we focus on cast.
When I first got hit with 1 Peter 5, it was really this part that Holy Spirit was challenging me with. “…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV). A worry had crept up, slowly and stealthily, into my life. I was being short with my husband and children, walking around with an ever growing scowl on my face. After a full week, it was a slow rolling boil. But I wasn’t even certain how to stop it! I felt helpless and stuck, frozen.
The truth is that I had put pressure upon myself. It wasn’t put there by anyone else, not God or my husband or friends or leaders. The truth is that it was all me. And, I allowed it to take control of my life for a solid two weeks. But a Devine intervention was put into motion months in advance, an opportunity to push the reset button and step into the classroom as a willing and well prepared student.
Well prepared, because I had been gripped with anxiety for two solid weeks. Willing, because I didn’t want to be anxious but didn’t know exactly what to do with it. Enter classroom, and 1 Peter 5:7.
“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV).
Our call to action word is cast. However if I’m going to cast something, I’d like to know what I’m casting and where. I don’t want to cast blindly. Here, the word cast means to throw. It’s pretty simple, but easier said than done sometimes. And the what we are to cast, in 1 Peter 5:7, is anxiety. This is the beginning of where it hits home for me. Depending on which translation of the bible you use, it may say anxiety, care, worry, or concern.
I love the definition Brené Brown offers for anxiety; anxiety is uncertainty, overwhelming fear, competing demands on our time, or social discomfort. This definition hit every possible aspect of what I experience when anxiety creeps into my life. She goes to explain that there are two patterned ways of dealing with it. Over-Functioning and under-functioning. (Her book Rising Strong is a great read, I would highly recommend digging in to it!)
I tend to under-function, but in a slightly different way than she describes. My under-functioning because of anxiety looks like being frozen, withdrawn, or dividing myself from others, pulling away.
Take a moment and think about what you tend to do when you experience anxiety.
But what does the Bible say about the word anxiety here? The word anxiety here, in the Greek, is merimna (mer´-im-nah) and means care (through the idea of distraction). And it comes from the word meros, which means to get as a section or allotment, divide, give part, share, disunite.
I don’t know about you but when experiencing anxiety, I’m a little divided and distracted; especially from God.
When we experience anxiety and worry, we are to cast it upon the Lord. Not bounce it over to him, to be caught and thrown back, or for us to pick back up. Not like a tether ball, that spins around on a cord and comes flying back in your face. And, we aren’t fishing; throwing the line out and reeling it back in with bigger and better anxiety on the hook. Cast it, throw it completely to God.
This word, merimna, is used six times in the New Testament. A variation of this word is used many times, but this particular word comes up six times. Three times it is used in the explanation of the parable of sower, in three of the gospels. Take a look at Luke 8:11-15, paying close attention to the word “care” in verse 14. In this set of 3 occurrences of the word merimna it is used with idea of the cares of this world, the “riches and pleasures”.
Our cares, anxiety and concerns are things in this world that divide us from His word, things that we share our time and attention with, things that distract us from Him or the work He has prepared before us. Is this hitting home for you, like it does for me? It felt like a gentle punch to the gut when I began to understood what this anxiety was doing within my relationship with others and with God. Because like in Luke 8:14, their fruit never matures. I want to mature in Christ, not lying on the side of the road withering away from anxiety!
The other three occurrences of this word are found in our 1 Peter 5, 2 Corinthians 11:28 and then in Luke 21:34. The common factor in these three ares is that it takes the position of being watchful with the cares and anxieties we experience in this world. We’ll dig more into that part when we dig into our next word, watchful. But for the time being, just keep that in mind.
Several translations use the word ‘care’ so that 1 Peter 5:7 reads like this; “cast your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” See that? There are two ‘cares’, but in the Greek they are two different words with two completely different meanings. You see, while our care is from a place of being distracted and divided; God’s care is from a place of action, a true interest and concern for His children. That makes me smile and feel cared for.
Something I’m becoming keenly aware of, is that anxiety is an opportunity to trust God even more; handing over the worry in exchange for His peace and contentment, knowing that He cares about me. For now, I’m faced with the task of being watchful and casting any cares, concerns or anxiety onto the Lord. No longer am I to feel helpless and stuck when anxiety creeps in. It’s not mine to carry, it’s mine to throw away.