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Casting Your

Anxiety on God

Rev. Rodney A Gray


Casting Your Anxiety on God

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”


(I Peter 5:7)

Peter wrote this epistle to Christians who were facing persecution and suffering for the word of
God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. He wrote to encourage them to accept suffering and
persecution for the sake of Christ as the will of God for them in this present evil world. He
wanted them to trust the Lord and remain faithful even unto death. Christians “suffer grief in all
kinds of trials” (1:6). Christians are “aliens and strangers in the world” (2:12). Christians “suffer
for what is right” and “for doing good” (3:14,17). Christians “participate in the sufferings of
Christ” and they are “insulted for the name of Christ” (4:13,14). Christians have been called to
God’s eternal glory in Christ “after you have suffered a little while” (5:10). In the light of all this
Peter wrote, “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you
bear that name” (1:16). As Christians, we soon come to understand that we must face suffering
and persecution for no other reason than that we are Christians. Paul wrote to Timothy, “In fact,
everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (II Timothy 3:12).
The apostles of Jesus Christ were godly men, but they were only men after all. The rigors of
faithful ministry were very real and personal to them. They were not immune to the burdens and
anxieties that result from constant confrontation with an ungodly world. The recognition of this
led the apostle Peter to round out his epistle with the concluding instructions and encouragement
directed to the elders and congregations in 5:1-11. This epistle, consistent with the whole of the
Bible, demonstrates the amazing relevance of God’s revelation. Christians in the twenty first
century struggle with anxiety no less than Christians did in the first century. Anxiety is and
always has been a personal challenge in the Christian life. The true churches of Jesus Christ are
always suffering and persecuted churches. The world is always hostile to biblical Christianity.
Living in an alien environment causes anxiety. What can the Christian do about anxiety?

We can realize that anxiety is a fact of life.

This means that biblical Christianity can never be accused of providing an escape from the
realities of life in the world. Biblical Christianity is not an evasion of “real life,” it is real life.
Christians are not looking for a way out; we are looking for a way through. We do not want to
live as those who belong to the world, but we do want to live as faithful Christians in the world.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). If you are a Christian, and you are
living in this present evil world, you are well aware that this is true. Being a follower of the
Lamb in a world that rejected him makes this inevitable. “If the world hates you, keep in mind
that it hated me first,” he said to his disciples, and, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute
you also” (John15:18, 20). The Book of Acts tells the story of persecuted disciples of the Lord
Jesus Christ. It describes churches coming into existence despite opposition and then struggling
to find and maintain their place in a hostile world. Peter had the personal experience of this in his
own life and ministry, as a review of Acts 4 and 5 will show. In Acts 12 Luke recorded Peter’s
imprisonment and near execution under King Herod Agrippa I. And Peter very likely was
executed in Rome by order of Nero not long after he completed his second epistle.
Peter has written to Christians as exiles in the world (I Peter 1:1; 2:11), and anyone that has to
learn how to live in exile knows something about anxiety. The people of Judah went into exile in
Babylon for seventy years. Many never learned how to live in exile and consequently never
returned. But people like Daniel and his friends knew that they belonged to the kingdom of God
even though they were exiles in a foreign land. They faced enormous pressure and temptation to
conform. Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to learn to think like Babylonians so that they would live
like them. But they never surrendered their identity and integrity as men who belonged to the
Lord God of Israel. They never relinquished their hold on the promise God made to Abraham to
bless the nations through him. They were descendants of David and they continued to look for
the coming of great David’s greater Son. We can only imagine the anxious thoughts of Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego as they faced the prospect of the fiery furnace, and of Daniel as he was
threatened with the lions’ den. But they were learning how to be in the world but not of the
world, to live as strangers and exiles who were committed to a higher loyalty and a heavenly
citizenship. They were learning that anxiety is a fact of life and that the only thing they could do
was cast it upon God.

If anxiety is a fact of the Christian life, what exactly is it? From the point of view of the Bible,
anxiety is a word that describes what it means “to be drawn in different directions,” to not know
what to do or which way to turn. It always has to do with the cares and concerns of life in the
world. It is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “do not worry about your life” (Matthew
6: 25ff). He went on to itemize issues of life that cause us to worry, such as food and clothing. If
God, who is our heavenly Father, takes care of the birds and the flowers, will he not much more
provide these things for us? Rather than worry about these things, we must trust God for them. In
his parable of the sower, the seed, and the soils he said that the thorns represent “the worries of
this life” (Matthew 13:22). Life includes anxiety because of the seemingly endless list of things
that life involves. Anxiety is caused by things that draw us aside, demand our attention, burden
our minds and pull us in a dozen directions at once. Anxiety means that, in our perception of
things, life is becoming too much for us to handle, We feel like we are losing control of our lives
and that our problems are fast becoming bigger than we are. Sometimes we run the risk of losing
our grip because we do not maintain a biblical perspective.

This passage of the word of God, however, places all of this in a context or framework. It does so
by dealing with the situation in terms of suffering as a Christian. It recognizes that forces are at
work to make life difficult and at times downright unbearable for Christian people. These are
anxieties arising from our position as Christians in the world. Our position in as Christians in the
world is that we live under God’s mighty hand. The mighty hand of God protects us, provides for
us, and preserves us. There is never a time or circumstance when we are not under God’s mighty
hand. The challenge, however, is to believe that and live as if we believe it. When we carry a
burden of anxious care, we are forgetting God’s mighty hand. The Christian’s life in the world
includes cares and anxieties. This should come as no surprise to us, and it should compel us to
remember our relationship with the God who is over us, with us, and in us. Earlier in this epistle
Peter made some amazing statements about what it means to live as the people of God in the
world. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to
God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful
light” (2:9). The reason these things are true of us is because of God’s mighty hand. If we do not
have a God in whom we have confidence enough to cast our anxiety upon him, how can we ever
expect to get around to the business of actually doing it?
We can learn to cast our anxieties upon God.

It is important to see in the text that casting our anxieties on God is not merely a Christian cliché
or platitude – one of the things that Christians are supposed to say. It is a theological truth that is
rooted and grounded in the character of God himself. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under
God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (verse 6). Peter gives us a point of view
in this text, we might even say a worldview. This is how Christians in the world should see
themselves. We are always under the mighty hand of God. The Christian point of view must
begin with God, his activity in the world, and his supremacy over all things. We must see
ourselves as occupying a position relative to God that puts us under his mighty hand, meaning
that our whole life and existence, with all our experiences and relationships, are somehow “under
God.” This is really the framework of this teaching; indeed, it is the very foundation of it. Unless
we acknowledge God as being in and over all things, supreme in power and dominion,
controlling all the events of our lives and the world at large, it will be very difficult to reconcile
ourselves to the simplicity of this apostolic teaching.

What does it mean to “cast” our anxiety on God? Interestingly enough, there is only one other
instance of the use of this word in all the New Testament. It is found in Luke 19:35: “They. . .
threw (or cast) their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.” This is a good illustration because it
helps to explain what it means to cast our burdens on the Lord. Of course we do not do this in a
physical way. Casting our cares upon God is not a physical act by which we transfer material
objects to God. Obviously this is an activity of the spiritual part of man, the intellect, the
affections, and the will. It is a matter relating to the heart, or inner being. But the vivid portrayal
of the garments being cast upon the colt’s back so that Jesus could ride upon it helps us to
appreciate what is implied in the spiritual realm about casting our anxiety on God. We should
also make note of the fact that “cast” is actually not an imperative verb that gives a command. It
is in fact an instrumental participle that tells us how to implement a previous command already
given. The KJV is correct in translating it “casting.” The command previously given is “Humble
yourselves…” We humble ourselves by casting our anxiety on God. When we fail to do so, it is
because of pride. Pride means that we think we can handle it ourselves. Humility means that we
want to turn it over to God because we cannot handle it ourselves.

The dilemma in which we so often find ourselves, though, is that we just don’t seem to be able or
willing to do this. It sounds so simplistic, so idealistic, that we are convinced that there must be
other things we should do, other measures we must take. We make the issue so complex and con-
fused that the simple directive of Scripture becomes to us totally irrelevant. How do we
implement this duty? How can we get ourselves to actually and personally cast our anxiety on
God so that, having done that, we find relief from our burden of anxiety? Is this realistic at all?
Or should we rather take our Bibles with a grain of salt here and not take the teaching of God’s
word too seriously? The old commentary on I Peter by John Brown offers some helpful
observations on this question of how to cast our anxiety on God.

First, we must be firmly persuaded that God has complete control of all those things that are
causing our anxiety. We must acknowledge God as sovereign over all his works, all his creatures,
and all their actions. In other words, we need a view of God as absolutely sovereign over
everything, and of everything else as being at his disposal to do with as he sees fit.
Second, we must be firmly persuaded that God will use his complete control in the best possible
way. In other words, we must realize that God is infinitely wise, good, and righteous, besides
being infinite in power and sovereignty. We must understand that God is completely able and
fully committed to do good, the greatest good, and to bless the world that he created.

Third, we must be firmly persuaded that God will use his complete control over all things in the
best possible way for us. We must therefore know that he is our friend, not our enemy, and that
whatever he does is for our ultimate good. We must be convinced on the basis of what God has
done for us in grace that we are reconciled to him, at peace with him and entitled to every benefit
his grace guarantees to us.

Now these three principles describe a point of view, a perspective on God and His relationship to
us. We may choose to affirm these tenets in a variety of ways, but unless the essence of them is
there we have very little to support us in our efforts to cast our anxiety on God. The apostle Paul
stated much the same thing when he wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the
good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The point is that we need a biblical point of view, a God-centered perspective, because how we
perceive things means everything in a matter as critical as this. What we are talking about here is
a spiritual view of God, the world, and our lives in the world. And in order for us to do with our
cares what this Scripture tells us to do, we must have this firm persuasion concerning God’s
relationship to all events. Our whole life must be a life of “casting” all our anxiety upon God.
This is the sense of the verb here. It indicates that this is what the Christian life is in its totality. It
is a lifetime of casting anxiety on God. And do not forget to cast all your anxiety on him. Pride
keeps us from casting, but casting is the way to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
God does not want us to do selective casting. He does not want occasional casting. He does not
want us to cast only the hard cases on him. Whether it is anxiety over a difficult co-worker or
anxiety over a financial crisis, cast it on God. Is it anxious care about a sick child or about a child
who is far from God? Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

We can know that God cares for us.

Many Christians simply decide that they just cannot do this. And often this seems to be the case,
although at times we have to admit that our “cannot” is really a “will not” But the concluding
part of this verse is the inspired answer to that kind of an attitude. God cares for you! Think of it!
God cares for you! The literal translation of this statement might be something like this: “because
to him there is care concerning you.” The word “concerning” suggests the idea of “surrounding.”
It describes the perimeter of something. The care that our God has for us is an all-encompassing
care, a watchfulness with which he surrounds us. There is no phase or detail of our life that is
outside the circle of God’s care for us. Moses assured the old covenant people of God that “he
will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). David said, “Cast your cares on the
Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). And let us not
forget the similar themes of Psalms 23, 46, 91, and 121. God cares for you.

This is an altogether different kind of care. It is not anxious, fretful, restless, or worrisome care,
but watchful, thoughtful care. It is the care that the shepherd has for his sheep. It is the personal
interest that one person has for another in a relationship of friendship and love. It is the care that
is not distracted, but pays attention. It is the kind of care the disciples had in mind when, in the
midst of the storm, they appealed to Jesus, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38).
Or Martha when she complained, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work
by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40). The implication in both cases was that Jesus was
not paying attention and did not care. But of course the opposite was true. Jesus used this word in
John 10:13 to say that the hireling cares nothing for the sheep. The implication is that the true
shepherd does care for the sheep and is ready to lay down his life for them. So it is that God
cares for you.

“Every day the Lord Himself is near me


With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
‘As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,’
This the pledge to me He made.”

If we believe that God really does care for us, all the time and in every circumstance and detail of
life, then we are on the way toward understanding how important prayer and the word of God are
in the matter of casting our anxiety on God. On the one hand, prayer is the means God has given
us to tell him about our anxiety. He wants us to do that, even though it is true that he already
knows all about it. In fact, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew
6:8). But the apostle Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer
and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6). Is there any
other way to cast your anxiety on God other than through the means of prayer? What is “casting”
without prayer? On the other hand, God also speaks to us about our anxiety and tells us he cares
for us. He does this in the Bible, his revealed word. We have his ear through prayer, and he has
our ear through the word. Casting our anxiety on God means that we pray and read the Bible. In
telling him all about it, and finding out what he has to say about it, we are humbling ourselves
under his mighty hand. Pride keeps us from casting our anxiety on God, because pride keeps us
from praying and hearing his word. Prayer and the Bible are not just accessories to the Christian
life. They are not optional. Prayer and the Bible are absolutely indispensable. And as prayer and
Bible study increase, we will find that anxiety and worry tend to decrease.

But the opposite is also true. When we minimize prayer and Bible reading we maximize anxious
care. Christians are supposed to be big on prayer and reading the Bible. At least we say so
because we know these are the earmarks of Christianity. Seldom a week goes by that Christians
are not either encouraging someone or being admonished about prayer and Bible study. And yet
Christians are often burdened with worry and anxiety. Worry has been called “the Christian sin”
because it is so common and accepted among Christians. Christians accept worry or anxiety as
the norm for Christian experience, and often have little gumption to do anything about it. We
know where we stand on drugs and abortion. But we are not so sure where we stand on the sin of
worry. Can it be that most of the things we worry about have evolved into idols in our hearts that
are in themselves displeasing to the Lord? Can it be that we have forgotten “that a man’s life
does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15)? Have we lost our way, so
that the anxieties that trouble us most are not those arising from our commitment to Christ, but
our commitment to other things?

Let us realize that there is no Christian who does not struggle with anxiety. We should
acknowledge this, not to be resigned to it or to approach the problem fatalistically, but in order to
prepare ourselves to deal with anxiety when it becomes our problem. In The Pilgrim’s Progress
John Bunyan vividly describes the believer’s experience in the world. Every Christian, at some
point in his life, has his own Slough of Despond, or his Vanity Fair, or his Giant Despair. The
burden of anxiety (“the cares of this life”) may be laid upon us in all kinds of ways. The Pilgrim
in Bunyan’s allegory faced ridicule and opposition from his own family and friends when he
determined to set out for the Celestial City. Many Christians have to deal with the same problem
if their family and loved ones are unconverted. Parents who attempt to maintain biblical
standards in their homes may face resistance from their children; this likewise causes anxiety.
Christians in the work place must deal with this every day if they do not want to be swallowed
up by the prevailing ungodly views of work, money, material things, and the absence of ethical
standards. Christians who are not married, perhaps still in their teens, face enormous pressures to
conform to worldly ideas about sex, abortion, pornography, entertainment, drugs, etc. All of this
will likely produce anxiety. Christians who are caught up in “the American dream” of owning a
home, being successful, and making money will sooner or later experience the burden of anxiety
about these things. Christians who think seriously about issues relating to war and peace,
politics, recreation and retirement, their own personal life-style, providing for their families, or
even the condition of their churches, know something about the need of casting all their anxiety
on God. Surely this is a relevant issue.

In order to cast our anxiety on God, we must begin with the matter of our relationship with God.
What is our perception of God? We need more than just a casual acquaintance with him, because
we usually don’t confide very much in casual acquaintances. We must have a personal, firsthand
knowledge of him along the lines we described earlier. God reveals himself in Scripture. The
Bible gives us an accurate and adequate understanding of the living God. We dare not try to
create him according to our own image, but rather acknowledge him as he has made himself
known. Is the God of the Bible of such a character that he can handle your problem? Is he big
enough, wise enough, powerful enough, good enough, true enough, and available enough for you
to have confidence enough to cast your anxiety on him? And do you have access to him through
trusting in the person and work of his Son Jesus? Is Jesus you Savior, you hope, your peace, and
your righteousness? What is it that is causing you anxiety? Do you know a God who commands
your trust and confidence to such an extent that you are firmly persuaded that he has complete
control of whatever is causing your anxiety; that he will use his complete control in the best
possible way; and that he will always do what is best for you? “Humble yourselves therefore
under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him;
for he careth for you” (KJV).

July, 1986
Revised, November, 2009
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth and song;
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

Does Jesus care when my way is dark


With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?

Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed


To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief I find no relief,
Tho my tears flow all the night long?

Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodbye


To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks –
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Chorus:

O yes, He cares – I know He cares!


His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

[Frank E. Graeff]