“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Pride in Anxiety
How many of us have ever thought about our worries, fears, and anxieties as sin? That’s not a very common thing to hear. We justify our worries by telling ourselves that if we didn’t worry about it, then it wouldn’t get done. That may be true to an extent; we should have a loosely held plan that submits itself to God’s plan. However, when we cling so tightly to our vision of our future that we begin obsessing over it and stressing about it happening another way or not happening at all, that is twisting a good thing into a sinful thing.
1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”. If we extract the simple sentence, without the clauses, we get, “Humble yourselves, [by] casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”. Being anxious means we are not fully trusting God and that we believe ourselves more capable, and our plan better than his. Peter is saying that anxiety is a pride issue! So, “humble yourselves” by not being anxious “because he cares for you” and will take care of you.
This is something that almost everyone struggles with to some extent. Most of the time, women struggle with it more than men, but we men have our own issues – usually tending towards laziness and being a sluggard. In all things, we must remember to have grace towards the sins of others around us, knowing that we ourselves are likely worse off in many other ways.
Lets take this verse apart and examine what it’s telling us.
“The Lord is at hand” God is near! He is here for us. He is not so far away or so big that he has no time or attention to spare on us. The Lord is at hand. He is caring for us and providing for us, whether we acknowledge him or not. If he stopped paying careful attention to every molecule of our being for even an instant, we would cease to exist.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. Because the Lord is at hand, we can come to him and lay our troubles down at his feet and rest in his promises to take care of us. We are not only able to do this, but commanded to do so. We are commanded to bring everything to God in prayer with thanksgiving.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” will be granted to us. This means that we will be at peace even when it makes no sense to be at peace. When our lives are being torn apart and our families killed, we will be granted the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding”. Imagine the power of this testimony to the world around us.
Paul also says that this peace “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Guard them from what? It will guard them from sin. Many of the sins that we struggle with have their root in our fear and anxiety. We become defensive and withdrawn. We lash out and try to protect what we see as all we have left. We become stingy and bitter. These and many more are the sins that proceed out of a fearful and anxious heart. We each may be at different stages of fear with different resulting sins, but we all ought to examine our hearts to see what we do out of fear.
In contrast, the person who trusts and rests in God has true, unshakable peace and joy in all situations. They are able to be open and honest and turn the other cheek to those that would do them wrong. They feel no need to protect themselves or their lot in life because they trust God to do so for them. Even when their life in this world seems to be falling apart, they can rest in the assurance of God’s promises and their eternal reward and salvation. This and more all proceeds out of a life of constant “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”.
Please Lord, grant us this kind of faith and trust in you. Help us to present our fears and anxieties to you and trust you to care for us through them. Let this be a testimony to all those around us of your goodness and power.