1 Peter 5 :: Suffer

In this 1 Peter 5 study, we’ve already looked at the words humble, cast, watchful, and resist.  We’ve finally made it to the suffering .  Thanks for being patient, I decided to stop posting it on the blog until after we had talked about it in our Connection Class (Sunday School) at church.  And, we talked about suffering for three weeks.  THREE!  (All of our fabulous discussion and learning isn’t reflected here.)  I was so not expecting that.  In fact, I was not expecting to spend three months on 1 Peter 5:6-11 when we started this back in June.  So thanks for sticking with it.

Oh, suffering.  That’s such an enticing word, isn’t it?  Initially it sounds painful to me, something I want to avoid and not experience.  However, I have a new appreciation and dare I say understanding for what suffering is and what it means to suffer.  There’s not a single human walking this earth that has escaped the experience, therefor making it a universal connector amongst us all.  But there is something much greater, that overcomes the suffering, connecting us.  Love.

“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:9-10 (ESV)  I love how scripture says that we will only suffer for a little while and reminds us that our brotherhood throughout the world is also suffering.  It reminds me that I’m not alone, and that others are experiencing it.

My husband starts something new with his job soon and needed a specific shirt as part of his uniform.  While standing at the check out counter in the store, a woman I know walked up behind me to check out and said hello.  I was surprise to see her and asked if she had the day off of work, to which she replied no.  Her mother and father had both passed away that week, and she was preparing for their funeral and needed some clothing items.  My heart aches for her, and can not imagine the suffering she was experiencing.  We usually don’t know when someone is suffering just by outward appearances.  It’s an internal experience, that only sometimes bleeds over into visible places.

We will all experience suffering, there’s not one of us who will escape this.  Way back in Genesis, the suffering began and it will continue until our last breath.  I don’t say this to be a downer, it’s the truth.  Remembering that we all suffer makes me want to reach out in love to others, even when I don’t feel like it.

The word suffering in the Hebrew is pathema and means something undergone, hardship or pain, subjectively an emotion or influence.  The emotion part sticks out to me, because sometimes my “I don’t feel like it” or other emotions override action in a not-so-great way.  I’ve come to the place that if I’m going to suffer, which will happen, I want to suffer well.

When you experience suffering, what do you do?

Sometimes I question myself, trudge through in my own power and roll around in the muck, stuff it down, complain.  Maybe you like to wade through self-pity, or wear the suffering like a badge of honor?  There are so many different ways to suffer, and I simply want to do it better today than I did yesterday.

What are we supposed to do, or remember, when we suffer?  There’s a few things that come to mind.  Staying mindful of who I am in Christ, a christ-consciousness, is huge for me.  It not only reminds me of who I am, but who others are as well – creations of the Creator. (1 Peter 2:19)  Rejoicing and giving thanks through the suffering has pulled me up out of the pain on more than one occasion.  (James 1:2-3, 1 Peter 4:13)

There are so many ways to suffer well, and our ultimate example being Jesus on the cross.  I’m so grateful for his loving example.  I would encourage you to seek out what scripture tells us about suffering well.  And remember, it’s only going to last a little while.

 

1 Peter 5 :: Resist

Don’t you just love it when you can’t get something out of your head?  That’s what happened when I started to study out “resist” for this study of 1 Peter 5.  I could hear her voice in my head, the woman in my pilates workout video as we do leg presses, “Resist. Resist. Resist.”  It was rather humorous at first, then the light bulb came on. 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:6-9 (ESV)    

In the Greek manuscript, the word resist is anthistémi; which means to stand against, oppose, withstand, strongly resist and opponent.  It’s a classic Greek military term, and comes from two other words.  Anti, which is opposite, instead of.  And histémi, which is to stand, appoint, establish, set (up), steadfast.  The idea behind anthistémi, resist, is that we are in an upright and active position, we aren’t prostrate. 

How do we resist our adversary?  If we are going to resist our adversary, it’s going to take some practice and endurance.  It’s not something we can do laying down, but up and ready.  This is where the light bulb went off for me, as the “Resist. Resist. Resist.” looped on repeat in my head.  Resistance training. 

Resistance training is a form of exercise.  During a resistance workout, you utilize gravity, body weight, bands or weights as you move your limbs to improve muscular strength and endurance.  During one of my pilates workouts, in the comfort of my living room, gravity and my own body weight provides a gentle yet effective workout.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem like much is happening, but with persistence and patience the work becomes evident. 

So in order to resist our adversary, I think some spiritual resistance training is necessary.  Personally, when I’m struggling and haven’t been doing spiritual resistance training, I can spiral down emotionally and it’s hard to get out of the pit.  As opposed to when I have been doing some “training”; I may spiral down, but getting up and back on track is so much easier and faster. 

One day last week, I had one of those days that I just needed to cry.  I couldn’t pin point exactly what was going on, perhaps a concoction of different things which had piled up and I felt a bit overwhelmed.  It’s been a full summer and maybe it was just a let down of emotion and release of passing some significant dates in our family.  Whatever it was, I just needed to be sad and cry, and I went down fast.  However, after being sad for a bit, talking, releasing some emotion and a good nights sleep I was rejuvenated and energized the next day.  Even though I was sad that day I went down, it felt good to write and release, and spend some time with the Lord.  Through the chaos of summer, I have not let my quiet time be optional each day (for the most part).  It’s time I’m not willing to let go of or compromise, it may be shorter some days but it happens.  Distractions abound, and sometimes its hard.  But for me, that time with Jesus is life giving, spiritual resistance training. 

1 Peter 5 gives us a lot of ideas for exercise in resistance training.  Humbling ourselves, casting our cares and anxieties, and being watchful.  Watchful of our words, actions, thoughts and judgmental attitudes, or areas the enemy is sneaking in.  Some other things we can practice to build our endurance and resist is to draw near to God (James 4:11), pray, and put on God’s armor.  Putting on God’s armor in Ephesians 6:10-20 is an endurance workout for sure, constantly ready for battle.

Thanksgiving is another great resistance training exercise.  Philippians 4:6 tells us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV)  When my prayers are steeped in thanks, I am practicing my trust in the Creator and not just asking for things.  The prayer and supplication are a humble begging with a thankful heart, not a heart that is unsatisfied.  When life gets hard, choosing to be thankful each day builds up endurance and faith. 

Something else about resistance training is that with each workout, you tend to focus on one part of the body.  A long time ago, in a far away land, when I was in training as a long-distance runner, we would do weights a couple times a week.  Focusing on legs one day, arms the next and constantly working on core strength with each work out, doing sit-ups or similar exercises.  But, we could never do them all at the same time.  Could you imagine?!  Push-ups and sit-ups at the same time?  An athlete focuses and builds each weightspart of the body, knowing that it’s all interconnected, relying on each part.  If it feels overwhelming, or like I’m not in shape, I can pick one spiritual training exercise at a time.  The training room is always open, and there are lots of choices.  Read my bible, pray, or write a note of thanksgiving to name a few.  One thing, that’s all it takes to get moving into an upright and ready for action position.

Resist, resist, resist.  (I so wish you could hear her voice on the video!) Start with small increments, getting into and staying in shape for the challenges the enemy presents.  Time for a little resistance training?!

1 Peter 5 :: Watchful

I’ve had some good opportunities to practice what the Spirit has been walking me through with 1 Peter 5 lately.  Sometimes it’s lessons I really need, but not so keen on learning (listening) or doing the hard work in order to practice it and grow.  It’s not easy!  But always worth it.

So, working through 1 Peter 5 and the action words that stand out to me; we’re ready to step into our next word, watchful.  Have you ever read something in the bible and it just doesn’t seem to fit with the surrounding passage?  Well, that’s what I felt about this portion of scripture.  It’s like the first part of casting your anxieties upon the Lord and being watchful for Satan didn’t have much to do with each other.  Perhaps they forgot to start a new paragraph?  Well, I’m learning and loving how each word is beautifully and purposefully linked together.  It’s making sense now, and His timing for teaching us is always good. 

Something I wonder about is the order of this scripture.  We are to humble our selves and cast our cares, and be watchful.  I don’t know about you, but spiritually speaking I wasn’t ready to be watchful two years ago, the humbling and casting came a little easier earlier in my walk. This isn’t to say it’s done well all the time.  I knew about being watchful in other areas of my life, and the importance.  However, to be watchful of satan would have been a little overwhelming and scary in some ways early in my walk.  But, I don’t want to be devoured!  So it’s time to be watchful, the next step.  Its amazing how the Spirit allows things to come into your life, opportunities to practice the lessons, when your ready and the time is right. 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, and at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares of you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:6-8 (ESV)

Watchful.  Some translations say, “be sober, be vigilant” (KJV), “Be serious! Be alert! (HCSB), “Keep a cool head, stay alert.” (MSG).  And the watchful, or be alert, here means to keep awake, watch; be vigilant, (be) watch (ful).  It sounds simple, but often harder than we think. 

Another place this word is used is with Jesus and the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus asks Peter, James and John to remain (abide) and watch.  As Jesus comes back from praying, he finds the disciples asleep and once again asks them to watch.  Jesus asks them to watch and pray that they would not enter into temptation.  (Mark 14:32-42) 

What do we need to be watchful of?  As the scripture in 1 Peter 5 continues, it lines out being watchful of satan.  But what exactly are we watching for?  I wonder if the disciples wondered what they were supposed to be watching for. 

So, what do we need to be watchful of?  Anger that creeps up and explodes, confusion, distractions, selfishness, the easy route that might not be the best, lies about yourself or others?  What do you need to be watchful for?  Satan comes in many forms and feeds us a lot of lines.    

Do you remember the portion of 1 Peter 5 about casting our anxiety?  The word anxiety comes from the thought of distraction.  Distraction is a hard one for me.  In today’s world, there are so many distractions I’m not even going to begin to name them, but many stem from electronics.  It’s an easy route to get sucked into the void of the web, and distracted. 

It says that satan is like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Distractions can devour our time and relationships in the blink of an eye.  And it can happen when we least expect it.  A few days ago, I looked up a you-tube video of a roaring lion.  And the first video captured my attention.  A lion sat, roaring in a low repetitive growl for nearly five minutes.  It wasn’t an all encompassing, powerful roar we tend to think of.  The low, prowling roar of satan’s lies can confuse, distract, entice, and lead us astray.  And as a lion hunts, they devour the one separated from it’s community. 

Becoming aware of what we need to be watchful of is half the battle.  However, what do we do with “it” once we’ve identified something?  We can cast it off to God, pray, worship, read or quote scripture, talk to a friend.  Take action.  Today I had the opportunity to talk to a friend, being real and honest about something going on in my life.  We were able to pray together and lift it up to God.  It’s what community can do for each other.  Iron sharpens iron.  We can watch each other’s backs.  And, if we’re being aware and watchful, sharing with someone when we’re feeling divided and struggling, they can hold us accountable, surround us with prayer and serve. 

Humble yourself, cast the cares of this world to the Lord and be watchful.  Watchful for the enemy; and watchful for how our Creator is growing and drawing us nearer to him.  Next up, Resist and Suffer; so exciting, right?!  (It’s because we are called to His glory.)   I can’t wait to dive in and then share with you.  For now, I’m practicing the watchfulness of a diligent daughter who casts the cares to her Father.  How about you?

IMG_2830
This doesn’t’ have too much to do about 1 Peter 5 and being watchful, other than I’ve been watching and waiting for these lovely Hydrangeas to bloom.  Right outside the window at my desk, and wanted to share with you.  Cheers!

1 Peter 5 :: Cast

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.   

IMG_0024Well 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.  

1 Peter 5 :: Humble

For the past month, 1 Peter 5 has been the main focus of my study. It’s really where God has me, the topic of anxiety has been heavy.  I think it’s because there are some hidden anxieties that are holding me back.  Holding me back from going deeper with God and my trust of him; holding me back from living life boldly, bravely and courageously.  The more I study this passage of scripture, the more it is all tying together and I absolutely love it.  I’m excited to see where He leads me as these scriptures are studied out. 

Digging through 1 Peter 5, there are five different things that really stand out to me as things that we are to do or give to God.  My intent is to go through each one, dissecting it and looking at how it applies to the scripture as a whole.  This entire passage in 1 Peter 5 is about shepherding the flock.  So in examining these words, it’s important to apply it to ourselves and and also see how it corresponds in our relation to others.  The five words I’m going to explore are :: Humble, Cast, Watchful, Resist, and Suffer.

I know, thrilling words!  Trust me, it’s pretty cool.  And it’s all part of the process of being drawn closer to Jesus and others if we allow it.  So, onward! 

“Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that the proper time he may exalt you,….” 1 Peter 5:6

Humble.  What do you think of when you hear the word humble, or when you are told to humble yourself?  Are you aware of when you are being humble (or not humble)?

(I invite you to take a moment to write down your initials thoughts to these two questions, or at least think through them.)

For me, I think of humbling in two different ways.  And perhaps I experience one or the other depending on my mood, or who is involved!  I have both a “negative” and a “positive” connotation.  On one hand, to humble myself is kind of like being pinned down.  Unable to move.  Cowering almost, as a position of lesser than and unworthy.  On the other hand, there is a sense of respect and mutual understand, a reverence to humble myself under the authority of others.  It’s welcomed and provides comfort.  It feels appropriate and natural. 

Scripture has a lot to say about being humble.  Luke 14:11 tells us, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  When we are not humble before God, it’s like we are placing ourselves higher than He.  One of the sayings I’ve heard many times is “Humble or be humbled.”  It’s God’s economy. 

Well, if you’re human I’m guessing that you have had some “humbling” experiences.  It can keep us from being a know-it-all, or get to thinking your a little too cool.  If you have kids, they are really good at keeping you in a place of humility at times.   

In the Greek, this word humble is tapeinoó (tap-i-nó-o).  It means to bring low, depressed (like a pressing, not an emotional depression), physically lowered position.  And here in 1 Peter 5, the idea of humility or humble is expressed three times. So it’s important! 

So we are to lower ourselves.  Take a look at 1 Peter 5:6.  What are we supposed to lower ourselves under? 

So if I’m going to lower myself under the mighty hand of God, I would really love to know what that hand of God looks like, feels like, how to recognize it.  Being familiar with this can potentially give clues as to when I’m being humble or humbled.  And our first clue is right there in the scripture of 1 Peter 5:6.   

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 9.06.54 AM

God’s hand is….. MIGHTY  (1 Peter 5:6)

God’s hand has ….worked SALVATION for me (Psalm 93:1)

God’s right hand is …. filled with RIGHTEOUSNESS (Psalm 48:10)

God’s right hand is …. glorious in POWER (Exodus 15:6)

God’s right hand …. SHATTERS the Enemy (Exodus 15:6)

God’s right hand …. SUPPORTS me (Psalm 18:5)

God’s hand has …. SAVING MIGHT (Psalm 20:6)

God’s right hand …. UPHOLDS me (Psalm 63:8)

God’s hand is …. AGAINST Enemies & DELIVERS (Psalm 138:7-8)

God’s hand …. CREATED the Foundation of the earth (Isaiah 48:13)

If we are to humble ourselves under the hand of God, knowing that His hand has worked salvation for me, shatters my enemy, created me and the foundation of of the earth, and supports me.  This gives me an entirely different picture of who I am humbling myself to.  Any negative connotation of humbling is dissolved and replaced with a sense of protection and love.

Does knowing this, change your view of being humble?  Does it change how you might relate to humbling yourself before God? 

Can you picture humbling yourself under the Delivering, Righteous, Glorious, Powerful, Saving, Upholding, Supportive, Creative hand of God?  I can.  And honestly, it sounds like a beautiful place to be. Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 9.08.58 AM

If we finish out this verse in 1 Peter 5:6 it says “so that at the proper time He may exalt you”.  He will lift you up with that same loving hand that we are to humble ourselves under.  Held; safe  and secure.

This changes things for me.  How about or you?  I want to be humble, and a good example to others. We are to lead by example, and a humbleness towards God is to depress myself under His hand.  Not being high minded and closed, but remaining open to what and where God is leading and who He is connecting me with. It’s a good place to be.