Good morning. I’m going to invite you, I’m going to go ahead and tell you where we’re going to be, because we’re going to be in actually two passages. We’re going to be in Psalm 131 and 1 Peter 5. I’m going to tell you why, and then we should dismiss, 10 and 11 year olds, you guys are dismissed for your class. We’re going to talk about what I think is one of the biggest battles people face, they wrestle with in their faith.
I think it’s one of the battles the early church faced. When I tell you what it is, and when you read passages of scripture related to it, you’re going to see that New Testament really talks about this topic very often. The writers of the New Testament encouraged believers regarding this topic. So when I say we’re going to discuss one of the biggest battles I think that really shipwrecks faith, I think that topic is anxiety.
I want you to know, when we dive through scripture, we see what God says about this, how it relates to our own life, I want to tell you, one of my goals upfront is not to say to you this morning, if you just listen to everything I have to say, and you relate this to the topic of anxiety as it relates to your life, that it’s going to remove all anxiety from your life. There’s no way I could ever, until Jesus comes back, that ain’t happening, right? But what it can do is point to some passages of scripture that help us understand how to work through it and process it in a way that gives God glory and helps me to live as a healthy individual created for God’s purpose in this world.
So when you think about this topic of anxiety, lots of passages of scripture I could point to, and it was difficult to eliminate some of these, but I want to just show you a few, just to get the ball rolling on how the New Testament especially, we’ll look at some Old Testament verses, how it relates to this. Luke 12:25, Jesus says this. He says, “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?”
He’s getting the idea of this, the profitability of it, when it comes to stressing yourself out, getting anxious, carrying this worry and putting that weight on your shoulders. What does it really do for you? In this context, Jesus is thinking about just the day to day, right? The day to day pressures in which are on your life. In living in the fret of that, what does that really do for you?
In Luke chapter 10, Jesus talking to Martha. He says, “But the Lord said to her, Martha you’re worried about so many things but only one thing is necessary. For Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her.” Mary and Martha in this story, if you’re familiar with it, Mary’s spending time with Jesus. Martha is just busy. She’s on this performance mentality of just trying to get all of this done, and her schedule, if you look at her schedule in life, it’s full. She’s just stressed out to the max about it.
Then Jesus comes and talks to her and says you’re stressed out about all these different things, and look. I want you to really just consider one thing here. You see, that this first passage, all the things in life stress you out and then this passage it’s just the to do lists of life can stress us out. Even some of the things that just happen to us in life can stress us out. Jesus in John 14 is with his disciples, just before he’s about to be crucified, tells his disciples he’s about to die. The disciples have staked everything in following Jesus. They think this messiah is going to set up this kingdom, and now all of a sudden the picture of what they thought of the kingdom isn’t happening, and so they are worried, and Jesus in John 14 says this, “Do not let your heart be troubled.”
Anxiety. Stress, worry. Maybe I could cluster all of that together today, but Peter was a slow learner, I think in scripture. My mom would say he’s got a thick skull. Peter I think in even being part of these moments where Jesus is talking about the stress of life and how that affects us. In 1 Peter 5, just just kind of sums it up this way, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
God cares about what you go through. You look at these verses related to anxiety and stress and worry. It is, not just in these passages that we read. It’s a common theme in scripture, and very plainly we see in these verses that God’s desire is not for us to walk in it, and to let that necessarily determine how we live our lives and respond to life because anxiety is what dictates it for us.
I can tell you this morning if you’re a person, depending on where you are on this scale, but if you’re a person that tends to struggle more than maybe you would say others do in the area of anxiety, anxious people, the uniqueness of reading these verses, that anxious people will read verses like this, and they’ll start feeling guilty and therefore anxious because they’ve been anxious. It’s like, you can start getting anxious about being anxious, when there’s nothing to be anxious about, simply because you read verses that say hey don’t be anxious. And you start just stressing out about it, right?
Oh no, you look at people beside you. Am I an anxious person? Am I messing up by doing this? You start getting all worked up over reading verses like this. But, let me just take a little bit of weight off and just say this for you. The bible, plainly wants us to cast our anxiety on the Lord, but I want you to also know what the bible doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that believers won’t experience anxiety in their life.
In fact, the bible talks about it so frequently, it’s almost as if to say, it’s common, and if you say this might be me, it’s as if to say this morning, and you’re normal. And you’re normal. This isn’t verses to read to just put pressure on us, to make us feel guilty about yet again something else that we need to stress about and something else we need to worry about, but simply say okay, the bible’s talking about this in my life, and I believe the bible or I want to see God, and so what does this look like in my life to make the application to passages regarding this?
If the bible talks about this so frequently, where does my heart connect with the experience of anxiety and how God speaks about it? It’s not about whether or not your heart will be anxious or you won’t experience anxiety. It’s about what you choose to do with it in those moments. So the bible talks about it in a way that says, look, it’s going to happen. This is what’s going to happen. You’re going to go through hardships. Circumstances in life are going to put pressure on you. Your schedule might get busy like Martha. What do you do?
Now I’ll tell you this morning, I am, when it comes to be anxious, I’m not, I’m not the person to say, “Hey I’m the expert. Just do what I do.” Okay? When it comes to being anxious, I am an anxious person. In fact, probably one of the most entertaining things that you can do is put me in a room with you and watch a scary movie together. I don’t know what happened. I’m not going to watch a scary movie. It’s not healthy for me, but I’m the kind of person, you put me in a room with you and that kind of movie’s on, I can’t control myself. I can’t stop talking. I’ve been in rooms with people before. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until the people beside me are just like, “Would you just shut up? I can’t hear what the movie’s …” I’m trying to tell everybody what to do on the screen. It’s always obvious, you know. Jason, no matter how fast you run, he’s going to pop out from behind a bush. He’s going to be right in front of you, right? It’s scary stuff.
Just the anxiety works up in me and I can’t control it. My wife, the other day I was, came home from work, and it had nothing to do with church but I just found myself in this circumstance with people, and it was so bizarre, but I walk in the house and I just say to her, “Look, you’re never going to believe what happened to me today.” I just shared this sentence with her, and normally, you just share one sentence and your spouse might go, oh tell me more about that. But not my wife. My wife knows me. She goes, she looks at me and goes, “Oh no, did you spaz out and make it weird and awkward for everyone there?” And I was like, yes, yes I did. How did you know?
It’s like, she could care less about the story. She started feeling bad for everyone else because she knows her husband. So when it comes to the idea of anxiety, even this morning, dude. We’re talking about anxiety and I could get anxious about being anxious about teaching God’s word, as to whether or not it’s honoring to him. I’m not sharing this with you as this person that’s at the pinnacle of perfection, as it relates to these passages. I’m talking about these passages more to say, hey this is my target. This is what I think God wants, and when it comes to scripture, when it comes to the Lord, I’ve got past experience in life, and sometimes God can use that, and sometimes God’s just like let’s just take all that and let’s just start clean, Nathaniel.
Why don’t you just look to see what my scripture says, and build off of that. Whatever in your life can rest on that foundation that you’ve experienced, good, but if it doesn’t line up, let’s just start with God’s word. God’s word is that target and it’s that foundation for our lives. So I want to start in Psalm 131. Psalms, this section of Psalms, it’s a beautiful passage. In fact, one of the great things about studying scripture is when you can start with why is it written? Why is it here? What does it mean? What’s the history behind it? What led the people to write it?
Psalm 131’s a little bit unique because we don’t exactly have those details. Sometimes David wrote the psalm. Sometimes you can look at the psalms and there is a little bit of history behind that. It just colors the beauty of what’s contained there, and Psalm 131, we don’t necessarily know what that is. In fact, I would tell you, Psalm 120 to Psalm 134, if you got that open, you can look at those psalms and see, these are a lot of short psalms within the section, but Psalm 120 to Psalm 134 are called psalms of ascent.
We know so little about these sections of scripture that people even debate what that means. What in the world are psalms of ascent. Now this idea of ascent means it’s this thought of stepping up or going higher. Because of that, some people have suggested in history, what exactly are these psalms of ascent, and they’ve noticed within Psalm 120 to Psalm 134, that the writer continues to allude to hope in all of it, or talk directly about hope in it, so he’s seeking hope.
If you look at these psalms, you’ll kind of see this trajectory of they start low for the individual, but then they find themselves higher in God. Some have even said, well they’re called the psalms of ascent because when people would journey into Jerusalem they would have to go up, and these would be some of the psalms that they would sing as they go. The book of Psalms, when you open this book, it’s 150 chapters, and it’s like reading Israel’s top 150 charts. These are the songs that they would sing. The psalms are songs they would sing, and into Jerusalem as they would ascend, some have assumed maybe this was them ascending up to Jerusalem, singing these psalms, or even in the temple there were 15 steps that they had to ascend and here there’s 15 psalms, so maybe as they ascended up these steps, this would be psalms that were sung.
Either way, it’s this acknowledgement of going higher in God. David talks about these psalms, and me not being an expert related to the idea of anxiety, me being just like everyone else, in having different things to wrestle with in life, I thought, what better for us to do than to learn from someone who probably had a ton of stress going on in his life. King of Israel, right? Appointed by God to lead these people and all of the pressure that might come with that.
When I read Psalm 131, this is just me speculating so don’t take this as gospel truth here, but my guess is David’s probably a little bit older in life, and I say that for a couple reasons. One, in this psalm he doesn’t use the word anxiety but he describes his soul as one that’s really learned to let life just take care of itself as he trusts in God. I can’t help but think that either in being able to do that, this is one that’s seasons in life or a little bit older in life in learning how to walk with God, because I think once you’re young, when you’re young, everything you experience is sort of new for the first time, and so you’re kind of learning how to handle that and sometimes, not, I’m not trying to point the finger here, but sometimes you might just stress out about those things, when you go, what do I do?
When we’re younger in nature, we tend to spaz a little bit more than someone that’s seasoned in life. It’s not to say, older, more experienced, you can still spaz, right? But David kind of has this mentality of he’s walked with God and he’s just seen God be faithful, and so he’s not stressing out here. I had a grandmother that had a faithful walk with God and she used to just floor me. I even watched her. She had a stroke and a few years later ended up passing from that, but I just remember as a kid, I think I was 10 years old when she passed, she just had this phrase that she always said. People would come to her, grandkids, stressing about something, and she would just look at them and say, you know, this too shall pass.
This was a way of just calming the anxious soul. Now here’s this lady who’s walked with God her whole life, and then she just would lead with this phrase and you’re like, huh. It just kind of, you get so fixated on the problem sometimes, it just is good to take a step back. Here’s this lady that you know she’s been through a gauntlet of things in her life. This too shall pass. That’s kind of how I pictured David in this story.
On top of that, Psalm 131, it’s kind of like the Yoda statements of David. There’s something to be said about, as you get older in life, to learn, you don’t have to have diarrhea of the mouth about everything. That’s probably a bad way to put this, but David’s just, these words are few. If you look at these three verses, David just describes himself in two verses. He just says, this is me. Here’s God in this with me, and then verse 3 is like, do this Israel.
It’s like when you’re stressing out about stuff, you might just be able to put out the notebook and be like, give me all the things I’m doing wrong to fix this. But David’s just Yoda. Speak few words into this and just walk this path. So David keeps it simple, but keeps it focused on God, and he doesn’t even use stressful words like anxiety to do it.
Let me read this psalm to us and I just want to walk through this. I’m going to relate this back to 1 Peter 5, into the New Testament. I think both Peter and David are dealing with this topic, and helping us to understand how just to walk through it in a biblical way. So, David says, Psalm 131, “Oh Lord, my heart is not lifted up,” meaning he’s not pridefully elevated himself.
“My eyes are not raised too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me, but I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother. Like a weaned child is my soul within me. Oh Israel hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever more.” So you see, David’s demeanor in coming into this, right? He’s not arrogant, he’s not pride, he’s not elevating himself in this expectation that he is superman and all of life depends on him, right?
Verse 2, he describes himself in the way he comes before God and then he calls Israel to hope in God. If you’ll just think about verse 1 for a minute. Consider just the opposite of this because David’s finding a soul that rests here and so what would the opposite of this look like, right? Everything falls on you. Life depends on you. Nothing will function without you. You can see the opposite of how that spirit just might create some anxiety in an individual, and if you can’t maintain that level of stress, how things could just crack over you.
Maybe if I just summarized kind of the opposite of what David’s saying here, I would say this. Sometimes, guys, we expect more of ourselves than God does. If I just think about the story of Mary and Martha we just read in Luke 10:41-42, you see Martha in this performance mentality of trying to get all this stuff done, and as if God interrupts in that moment because Mary’s sitting there with Jesus and God interrupts that moment like why? Why do you find it so necessary to be performing all of these things, when the one you need most is sitting before you?
What is it that drives us to do so much of what we do? Is it because of fear of what other people might think of us? Is it because maybe we’ve elevated ourselves so high that we want to keep the standard so people’s images of us don’t change? Did God really call us to busy ourselves so much that we can’t even spend time with the one that we were created to connect with? Yeah.
I think that’s how David starts the Psalm 131. The danger in my life to not rest my soul before God is found in when I expect more of myself than God does. The stress of what that is. Last week we talked about, what is God’s will for your life. Can I tell you, the primary purpose for which God has created you isn’t based in anything regarding what you do?
That’s one of the fears of a religious mentality, right? It’s all about this performance way of thinking for approval in people’s eyes. We can live religiously in relationships with each. You’re not going to really love me unless I do everything that you want me to do. Can I tell you, that’s not love. That’s not real love. Love’s not about what you get. Love’s about giving itself away unconditionally, sacrificially for someone else, regardless of what they do.
The same thing’s true with God. God didn’t love you because of what you do. In fact, the bible says he loved you despite what you do. I think that’s why he died for you, right? When it comes to, David in this passage, I think this is a way of just saying the same thing that my grandma said, this too shall pass. Why is this a big deal?
Sometimes expecting too much of ourselves, we put this unnecessary pressure on this performance, for what? It’s because maybe … I’m not trying to point fingers, not trying to accuse, but maybe, maybe, it could be a little bit of pride. Anxiety’s one of those weird things, where like, anger and anxiety I think really go hand in hand. If things get out of your control, some people lash out. Anger, you want to control the moment, right? I’ve got to have this. Or anxiety might be the opposite. Ah, this is out of my control. I can’t control this, right? So rather than get anger, you get anxiety. And when we look at anger, we can cast stones at anger.
Anxiety’s one of those things that sometimes you feel like someone might be a little weaker and so you’re more compassionate about it and that’s good. We want to meet people where they are, but I want us to know, sometimes it can be pride. Like in our society, we say this a lot of times. You know, they don’t really think enough of themselves. We need to build their self esteem. Okay, but just think about this for a minute, okay? It may not ever be that we don’t think enough of ourselves. Honestly, it could be we think too much of ourselves.
We see life as completely depending on us, right? We expect more of ourselves than God does because we think that we’re more than we are. We’ve elevated ourselves in a position of pride that leads us to a place where we realize we can’t really control it. I think that’s what David’s saying here. The illusion is that we thought that we did have all this control, but truthfully, you can’t control people. A lot of times you can’t even control the circumstance. The only thing that you can do is determine what your heart does in those moments.
In anger, we try to force people to do what we want. In anxiety we melt but what does God want? I was stressing out, I don’t know, some time in the past few years over something related to ministry. I remember, I called this pastor and he just said, it was so, I felt so stupid when he said it but it was so good for my soul. He just said, God knows where you are. God knows right where you are. What do you think freaking out about this is going to do? Do you think this moment’s beyond God? He knows right where you are.
That’s what David’s saying in this passage. Maybe when I was young, I used to run at this, like I could do it all and crush everything with my hands and I had all this strength and I started to realize in life, I wasn’t in control in as many circumstances as I thought I was. I couldn’t dictate every person in this world. Even being king, I couldn’t do it. Instead what he learned to do was serve with an open hand.
That’s one of the beautiful things of ministry, and one of the difficult things of ministry. I’m not saying that as a pastor. I’m saying that for all of us, because God calls us all to minister. We’re all ministers for Christ and so when you serve, you can’t control everything but God will burden your heart for things and living life for him. So when you serve, you sort of put those ministries in your hand, but you don’t hold onto it and you don’t try to manipulate. You don’t control. You just leave an open hand to let God work but you just, you just hold it and you walk with it. God do what you will.
The hard part is you give your life for it. You care about it but you want to kind of control it because you love it so much, but at the end of the day, you know if you manipulate it, it’s not giving God the opportunity to work in the hearts of the individuals and the bible tells us even in Psalm 127, part of the psalms of ascent, it says if God isn’t the builder, we build in vain.
Part of this journey is learning about my own faith, right? That’s the greatest joy of just doing ministry in general. I mean, I get to see in my life, when I serve God, you too, you get to see God do great things in the lives of people around you, but you know the greatest front row seat to seeing God work, doesn’t happen outside of you, but rather within you. So I’m on this faith journey of not completely eradicating this anxiety of stress in my life, but understanding that when those moments arise, how do I best honor God in those moments? I think it starts with this. Don’t expect more of me than God does. Walk with him in it, right?
So David then makes it personal. Verse 2, I got to move faster. “But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Oh Israel hope in the Lord.” I like it. He starts verse 1 with this idea of the Lord. He ends with this idea of the Lord. What David is saying here isn’t this arbitrary idea of God. David’s using this very specific name of God, Yahweh. He isn’t just saying to this world, ah, just hope in a god in some way, but he’s saying, the personal God of Israel that showed up to Moses in the burning bush, that gave us this name Yahweh, it’s that personal God that I have learned to trust in, right?
So when you talk about wrestling the things of this world, and where can you put your trust and what can you hope in, can I tell you one of the things that just makes it easy on our life, is having a personal relationship with the one that you’re called to put your trust in. It’s like, if I told you today, you got kids. We’ve got this stranger out in the street. They offered to babysit, right? And you’re going to be like, I’m not taking you up on that offer. I have no idea who this person is. Can I see some credentials please? I need to know if they’re trustworthy. There’s lacking of relationship. Lacking of understanding, and so what do you do?
You hold on to it. You hold on to your kids because you know at least you and you can trust you. I’m telling you in life, there are things in life that are bigger than us. So we need something greater than us to trust in. So when we call ourselves to do it and God, the best way to know that we can let go and give it over to the Lord is get to know this God that we are called to trust in. So when David talks about the Lord here, I think he uses the most personal name of God to help us understand what this would look like in our lives.
Can I tell you, maybe even related to this, one of the most beautiful things that you can do, I think is just get lost in the psalms. These psalms of ascent, the songs of worship, because what they are, these writers, the psalms, the book of psalms is different from any other book written in scripture. All the other books in scripture is God sharing something with us, but the beauty of the psalms, I think they’re still inspired, but the beauty of the psalms are people then responding back to God.
Sometimes, I don’t exactly know. The bible even tells us, this is in Romans, that my spirit can grieve within me in ways that I can’t even linguistically express it. So the Spirit of God groans within me over it, because I’m just seeking God. The psalms have this way of just teaching us how to connect our heart to that God that we’re called to trust in. Beautiful portions of scripture. Just to get lost in them and learn how David and some of these other authors that wrote the books, the songs in psalms, how they correlate their relationship to God and all that they’re experiencing in life. If you want to just blow yourself away, one of the psalms that just kills me every time I read it, Psalm 88.
You get to that psalm and it’s like there’s nothing positive in it. The guy’s like, it’s just stressing about stressing and it ends with stress. So if you read 88, read 89 right after that okay? But it’s just being honest, so when we talk about the things of life, sometimes it’s not just this pretending. It’s just being honest before God. It’s not to say when life’s stressed, when you come before God and all you’re presenting problems, it’s not saying you’re questioning your faith. In fact, it could be the opposite because you’re coming before the one who has the strength to provide for you in those moments.
So, David compares this passage to a winged child. I love this verse only because I know in the next couple weeks, I’m going to relate to it better than anybody. Well my wife probably more. We’ve got a baby due here in a few weeks, and let me tell you, there is a stark difference between weaned child and unweaned child. I have this nightmare reoccurring thanks to this verse again. It just brought it back to the forefront of my life, where I’m driving to work one day, so exhausted and I just pull over on the side of the road and I fall asleep, and I just get this knock from this police officer and he rolls down my window and I look at him with these cracked eyes barely conscious, and he’s like “Sir, are you on drugs?” And I try to explain to him, no I’m a pastor that just had a baby, man. Just give me a break. “Sir I’m going to need you to step out of the car.” I promise I’m not … Just the exhaustion of all that.
Unweaned children, they’re not fixated on relationship with mama. I know they bond with mom, but when, in the moment when you recognize they’re unweaned, they only want one thing and they will not be quiet until they’re done, right? David’s expressing how he’s learned to become a weaned child. To walk in relationship with this God. To enjoy his presence. Anxiety has this place in our lives where it can take our eyes off of worship, get so fixed and your problems become so big and your God becomes so small.
Like an unweaned child, you just begin to kick and scream and we just think about the circumstance and our eyes remove itself from our Lord. With that thought, let me just bounce from this text for a minute and look at 1 Peter 5 because I think Peter, Peter’s saying the same thing. Peter’s writing, 1 Peter 5, you know you think all the chapters, Peter could talk about anxiety when he writes his letter and he chooses the very last chapter. Why? Well I think he spent time talking about relationship with God.
Then, in growing in that trust and relationship, he then relates it to anxiety in our life. He comes in this passage, and he begins to talk about this anxiety. I think really what this anxiety does, so look at this, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, but resist him firm in your faith.”
So if Peter’s not just taking verses uncorrelated but if these verses all flow in thought, what Peter’s actually saying here to the early church, they’re under persecution and Peter’s encouraging them. He’s exhorting them, be faithful in God, but what he’s actually saying is, look at this. If verse 7 really intentionally precedes verse 8 for a reason, “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you, because there’s a lion that wants to destroy you,” I think what’s the implication here between these two verses, if Satan’s going to use something to destroy you, to get your eyes off God, it’s the anxiety and worry of the day.
You kind of get a picture when you read this story, that the early church worried about their life, stressed about their circumstance and they’re starting to turn their backs on their relationship with God. Peter pins it down here. What are you trusting in more? What do you have to hope in? Like an unweaned child.
Now let me tell you this. Anxiety in itself isn’t a sin. All right? I don’t want you to feel like when you walk out this morning, if you have or wrestle with these battles in your life, that we’re saying you’re a failure and you don’t have a relationship with God. That’s not what we’re saying at all. Lust isn’t a sin. It’s the giving in to the temptation that becomes the sin, right? Anger itself doesn’t have to be a sin. It’s the giving in to the anger that’s that the sin.
Anxiety isn’t a sin but when it dictates your life and takes your eyes off the Lord. Now that’s Peter’s exhortation here in this passage, isn’t it? Understand what’s at stake here. It’s a worship war happening in your soul. What do we value, right? Learning to eliminate things that you can’t control, not expecting too much of yourself, knowing that God knows where you’re at. God knows where you’re at, and just like David in Psalm 131, it’s this journey of finding him faithful, the Lord Yahweh, over and over again.
David then says in this passage. At the very end of verse 3, he says, “Hope in God forever, Israel.” Hope in God forever. When God calls, or when David used the Lord to call them to hope, I want us to know, hope doesn’t mean an unrealistic description of your circumstance. Sometimes when we talk about hope, we think hope is wishful thinking. That’s not the way scripture refers to hope. In our culture today, we’ve redefined hope like I sure hope so. Like, I don’t know, but I really want it to work it. It’s just kind of like a flip of the coin, a bet in Vegas here.
But when the bible talks about hope, it’s this earnest expectation. It’s just the waiting for the moment to happen. It’s the looking forward to God because you know that you have everything in him. It’s not this wishful expectation, and it’s not this fake happiness. It’s not an ignoring of your circumstance. God cares about your circumstance.
It’s not just putting on a fake smile and pretending everything is okay. Go read Psalm 88, right? You can be honest in your struggles. In fact, the bible says this, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, it says, “In everything give thanks for this is the will for you in Christ Jesus.” Look what it says. It doesn’t say for everything, give thanks. But rather in everything.
Like your prayer doesn’t have to be this, God thank you so much for cancer. Right? God thank you so much for me losing everything. It doesn’t have to be thankful for some of the experiences of life. Rather there is a way to be thankful in. Find God through it, to recognize that there is this worship war happening in my soul, as to what is Lord. Right?
So 1 Thessalonians encourages us to consider what it means to be thankful in God but not necessarily for everything. What does it mean to hope? Look what it does here in verse 2. He says in verse 3, “Oh Israel hope in God,” but David uses himself as an example and he describes some of the things that he would go through in life, verse 1, and he realizes he’s not always in control of his circumstance. He’s not big enough to handle that moment, and then, in the midst of his problem, he gives it a God-sized but. He says, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child,” as if to say, circumstances are real. Challenges of life we face, but. But God, right?
One of the greatest things about the God of the bible is that he commands us to let him work for us before calling us to live our lives for him. That’s a beautiful thing in a relationship with God. Because what it’s saying to us is God supplies the strength to the place in which he leads the heart. In fact, if I were to back up just one verse in 1 Peter, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time.”
I wish I could read all the context of this passage, but I don’t have the time this morning. I’d encourage you to go back and look at the few verses before and after, but he says humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. Come before God, knowing you can’t control the circumstance. Humble yourselves before God that he, he may exalt you.
It’s this worship of relinquishing self to the Lord, not letting the circumstance control but just coming to God and then it tells us, cast all your cares on him because he cares for you. In these two verses, again, I don’t think that they’re just verses that are disconnected but rather interconnected in what Peter is communicating here.
He tells us to put off something and take on something. Take on this humility before this great God that cares for your soul and put off this anxiety and allowing God to minister to the soul. This idea of casting is, in Israel’s history they had a beautiful picture of the sea or water. Starting in Genesis the water in Jewish history has always been chaotic. It’s always been chaotic, but even in circumstances, in the midst of the chaos, God would show up, and he would part the sea, or he would help them cross the Jordan.
In the midst of the chaos, God’s hand is there. When Peter’s describing anxiety in this passage, Peter’s a fisherman, right? He’s thinking about being out on the sea. Casting out his line. Just lost in the abyss, right? Cast it on him because he cares for you. Here’s what leads us to do that. Humble yourselves before the Lord
Anxiety does the exact opposite, doesn’t it? I’m going to stress out, man, until this is gone. That’s what you’d say. Then it says this. God cares. Humble yourself. Cast it out into the sea. When I was a kid I would go to the mall. Do people do that anymore? Go to the mall? There was this little fountain, and I know it was this way the mall would just bug parents to give all their change to the children because you could just right? You’d walk it down to the pond. Sometimes if you were lucky enough, you could go to the other mall, a little further away that had a fountain a story below you and you could drop it. That guy’s hovering his head over the fountain. Let’s see if I can hit it. Ah! Just get lost.
Because he cares for you. Peter’s describing it this way. The same way, in a general sense this casting, it’s the same word that was used in Luke 19, when Jesus journeyed on the donkey into Jerusalem, that they took their coats and they just, they cast it on the back of the donkey, to allow it to carry their messiah, the one that they were trusting in.
Anxiety, according to 1 Peter, it can crush your faith. It’s what’s stressing out the people in the early church. There’s this reminder that Peter calls us to and David calls us to in all of this. God knows right where you are, right? I think the encouragement for us, and if you question any of that, as to how God cares for you, I think the answer for you, the answer for me, is you’ve got to preach the gospel to yourself. Jesus died for you. Not because he wanted to leave you hanging, but because he cares for you. He paid for your sin curse. Why? So that in this life that we battle through, that we can come to know him and enjoy him and to walk with him, and when those moments arise, we can glorify him in our worship and to recognize that the production that rests behind that spirit that wants to turn, it’s just looking to put more on ourselves than even God expects.
But God calls us to cast. Sometimes I expect more of me than God does. Trying to control what I can’t control, but God I can’t control my circumstances, not always. I can’t control people. But I can only do what you created me to do, which is worship and trust. God to know, you work all things out for your glory. So God this morning, as your people, right, help us to be weaned children, nourished before a God that can satisfy. When those moments rise in my heart, Lord, may you win that war. May you be glorified in me.