“Cast all your anxiety upon [God], because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)
Words that are worth learning, easy to repeat, but difficult to apply. I’ll confess, I have my own seasons of anxiety, doubt, and fear. I have seasons in which my mind circles about in rumination. I’ll wager that you’ve had those times too.
Perhaps the anxiety comes in the form of worries about the future – what terrible things might happen if one event or the other comes to pass. Maybe it comes from fears about dealing with that one difficult person – it plays out in dialogues rehearsed and re-rehearsed in your head.
The anxiety might come stealthily disguised in the mantle of control – driving you to address each contingency and master every detail. Or it may come in a cloud of despair, convincing you that disaster looms on the horizon.
There is a constellation of other costumes that anxiety wears: cavalier dismissal, passive avoidance, helpless victimhood, blame-shifting defensiveness, etc. etc. etc. Many times our anxiety percolates underneath the surface, obvious to everyone around us, but hidden to our own self-awareness.
The key diagnostic is this: upon whom are our negative thoughts fixed. If the answer is “me” or “him” or “her” or “them,” then it is a safe bet that we’re living with unaddressed anxiety. When this is the case, I find that the scripture’s admonition to cast our anxiety on God is a helpful medicine.
Casting our anxiety upon God is a matter of dwelling on the richness of the scriptures, of taking our negative thoughts and viewing them through the lens of what scripture teaches about God and His character. I find that dwelling on the Psalms is a helpful exercise. For instance, meditate on Psalm 27, a song of David’s confidence and victory. “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling, he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle, he will set me high upon a rock.” Ask questions of the scripture: what is the beauty of the Lord? What is it for me to be hidden in God’s shelter? To be placed high upon a rock? What would it be like for me to exchange my anxious ruminating for earnest seeking of God?
One thing I have discovered through hard and painful experience: the more my negative thoughts drag me down to thinking about myself or my problem people, the smaller my world becomes and the more constrained my thinking. However the more my negative thoughts drive me to think about God’s deliverance, Christ’s grace, and the Holy Spirit’s power, the more creative my thoughts and the more expansive my vision of the world.
Let us each search ourselves, identify the anxieties, and cast them upon the Lord. Be reassured, He loves you, and it is His delight to bear them for you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Note: This article originally published in the Covenant-First Courier newsletter earlier this month.