June 19, 2019·Jarrod Kula
This week, our Pause devotional plan directs us through 1 Peter. One of the central themes of this book is suffering. When I consider suffering in the Bible, images of physical or violent persecution are typically first evoked in my mind. However, one of the things I appreciate in the Book of 1 Peter is that other types of suffering are specifically addressed, such as anxiety. As one who frequently (near constantly) deals with anxiety, I can assure you it’s a source of incredible suffering.
Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting 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, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:6-10 (NASB)
Physical health maladies continue to cause immense suffering. However, the acute rise in mental and emotional health issues are increasingly significant, and a growing awareness of how significant these issues are can hardly be understated. This dynamic is especially pronounced in younger people, since, for most young people, their bodies are still serving them pretty well (ah, the good old days…). Because of the nature of this communication, I will be brief – but please do not infer from that brevity that mental and emotional health issues are simple; I encourage you to seek help, counsel, and to intentionally address those issues. With that said, I would like to highlight three things that may seem obvious within the text, but hopefully will serve as both encouragement and a practical help to those that suffer from anxiety and similar challenges.
First, by the phrase “…casting all of your anxiety on Him…” (v. 7), the Bible affirms that anxiety is real. How many of you have either had others or even you, yourself, dismiss anxiety as not a “real” thing, perhaps thinking that your mind makes it up, and you can just as easily think it away? This scripture includes anxiety as a very present issue that God wants to help us address!
Second, suffering of any type is ultimately temporal: “a little while…(until) called…to His eternal glory” (v. 10). Anxiety can seem relentless over time, all-encompassing in the moment, yet the Lord is ever-present, available, waiting, prepared for you to cast your anxiety on Him, because not only does He care for you (v. 7), but because the Lord knows and can relate to you in suffering, at levels that few of us can even begin to comprehend in giving His life for us. That type of suffering and care from the Lord help bring perspective, balance, and comfort in the midst of those things that may trigger anxiety and/or when you are seemingly drowning during a panic/anxiety attack.
Lastly, as just touched upon, you are never alone – the Lord is ready for you to cast your anxiety upon Him. In addition, a profound biblical truth is reaffirmed – “knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished in your brethren…” (v. 9). In my experience, one of the most common (and effective!) tools the enemy (v. 8) uses, not just with sin, but especially with anxiety and depression, is that you are alone – that you are the only one that suffers with these things. Please know that you are not alone – many people deal with similar insecurities and challenges! Understanding that reality removes some of the sting, stigma, and weight of whatever afflicts you, either in a moment or throughout your life journey.
Lord, thank you for knowing, acknowledging, and sharing in our suffering, our anxiety and walking with us! Thank you that these burdens are not for us to bear alone. Help me, and others, to humbly (v. 6) and soberly (v. 8) lean on You and one another, that our faith would be firm and that we would experience You perfecting, confirming, strengthening, and establishing us now and forevermore (v. 10). Amen.
Pastor Jarrod Kula