Adapted by our team from Pastor Louie’s Message, The Anxiety Exchange
It’s most likely an apocryphal story, but over a card table, surrounded by other authors, Ernest Hemingway supposedly once bragged that he could write a complete short story in only six words. His peers balked at the claim and offered a wager where Hemingway would reap the profits if he could make good on his claim. Undaunted, the man who would go on to write A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea scribbled six words on a napkin and handed it over.
“For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”
Words matter, and often it’s not the number of them but the quality of them. Take 1 Peter 5:7 as an example. 11 words that can change the entire direction and quality of your days:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Said another way: Release what you are concerned about so that you can receive that God is concerned about you.
Of course, this falls securely into the category of easier said than done. How? How do we actually do this? How do we take those fears and anxieties that occupy our minds and turn them over to God so that we can live in the peace He has for us?
Looking at the context that 1 Peter was written, we can see that while the sources of Anxiety may have changed (for those of us in places where our faith will not lead to our death), the promise has not.
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your Anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-11
This text wasn’t written to belittle our anxieties today; instead, we have to read it and understand that God is powerful enough to carry His people through all circumstances, even ones of life and death.
1 Peter is calling us to cast our Anxiety not on some weak or incapable God, but upon the Chief Shepherd (5:4), the One who is leading us to green pastures and who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, and who laid down His life for his flock, for us.
You see, unloading our Anxiety isn’t about us at all; it’s about the Chief Shepherd, it’s about Jesus. It’s not pushing your anxieties to the side and trying as hard as you can to ignore them; it’s depositing them with Jesus once and for all because while we are concerned about any number of things, Jesus is concerned about us.
So then, if we believe that, how do we go about this anxiety exchange? What is the key to releasing those concerns into the hands of Jesus?
The key is humility.
Notice that Peter starts this with an observation about our anxieties:
5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5
Our anxieties, for the most part, revolve around our pride. They spring up out of our haughtiness inside of relationships. Friendships and family connections give way to anxieties when we find ourselves in tension because we’ve forgone extending grace. In the same way, the areas of our lives where we have placed our dreams and desires above the will of Almighty God give birth to, honestly, terrible worries and anxieties as we wrestle for control where we have no rightful claim to it.
And in these exact places, humility is the key.
Humility among one another and humility beneath God is not devaluing yourself; it’s elevating your confidence in God. It’s not listening to the enemy when he whispers to you that you’re a worm. It is knowing that you are the prize of a great Shepherd, of God; and seeing God as King.
Humility is a matter of the heart. It springs up when we spend time in proximity to God, and it reminds us that we are a work in progress. We have ground to cover and mountains to climb.
“Anxiety is a self-contradiction to true humility. Un-belief is, in a sense, an exalting of self against God in that one is depending on self and failing to trust God. Why worry, therefore, if we are His concern? He is more concerned about our welfare than we could possibly be. In it all, He is concerned about us, therefore again, why worry?”
– Kenneth Wuest
God’s mighty hand is open for you today. It’s not the closed fist of a tyrannical ruler. The Chief Shepherd calls for you with hands that bear the scars of nails driven on your behalf. This great anxiety exchange is possible because of a great exchange of grace, and if He was willing to bear all of your sin and shame to rescue you from death itself, surely He is willing to carry through on the promise to restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Put another way, in 11 incredible words:
Cast all your Anxiety on him because he cares for you.