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.
1 Peter 5:7-8
The Greek verb for “cast” or “to cast upon” is epirripto (ἐπιρρίπτω), which literally means to “throw down or away”—in other words this is something that takes some intentional force on our parts to get them out of our own hands and preferably far enough from us that we don’t pick them right back up again. If we can throw our burdens onto Jesus, we can trade it for on the yoke of Jesus, which is light and easy.
Read it again from Matthew 11:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Epirripto is only used one other place in the New Testament. It is when Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and everyone “casts” their coats on the back of the donkey for Jesus to sit on. Here we see the image again of heaving or throwing something onto a beast of burden and the invitation recorded in Matthew becomes even more beautifully clear. I think the crowd was unwittingly acting prophetically here. Even in the “triumphal entry” He was on His way to the cross to “carry” more than our coats, but our sin and our anxiety (more on this later!) We can cast our cares on Him because he has already carried them to the cross—not just our sins, but all the weight and worry that living in this world places on us. We can live this way if we want to…with everything.
Or can we?
In the back of my head, I realize that am thinking, “But if I don’t take care of this (and feel stressed while doing it), then no one will and things will not get done. I CAN’T NOT worry about it!” I’m sure you never feel that way.
Honestly, even after reading this, I feel so frustrated.
I’m trying but I. Can’t. Let. Go.
But He is saying I can. And you can, but not until we understand more about the depth of His love for us. Look at the end of verse 7 back in 1 Peter again
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.
Why can we feel confident in casting our anxiety on God (verse 7)?
He LOVES us—cares for us… in a way all of us parents can understand. My daughter today woke up in a state of fear. “Look how fast the clouds are moving! I’m worried—what if there is a tornado?!”
(True story…Really, babe, I just need you to put your shoes on.)
Finally, I looked her square in the eye and said, “Do you trust me to take care of you?” She said, “Yes, but I’m still worried!”
Me too, baby! My heart always softens to my children when I realize how alike we really are.
But here’s the thing this little exchange taught me…
His caring for us is completely independent of our confidence in Him. He cares for us because He is our Father (because of Jesus). That’s it. Whether or not we keep staying tangled in fear does not impact how He is going to care for us, but if we start to ground ourselves in truth we start to see, we don’t have to be worried about the dark skies, because He’s in charge.
Do you feel this confident in His love to let your “burdens” be carried by Him at this point in your life? Maybe you do. Or maybe in your heart of hearts, if you were honest, you would feel something holding you back. I am becoming more and more convinced that learning to live easy and light is rooted in our understanding of God’s love and is actually essential to our freedom as followers of Christ.
Let’s not leave 1 Peter 5:7-8 just yet. Read it again to refresh your memory.
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.
Looking back at verse 8, Why do you think Peter follows this commandment/invitation with a warning to remain sober and alert (hint: read the end of verse 8)?
Peter is relating our ability to give our concerns over to God and live “easy and light,” (free from heaviness and anxiety and worry and fear) to our ability to resist the enemy of our soul, who seeks to devour us. The two skills are inextricably related. Peter is saying that if we do not remain alert, if we are distracted by anxiety, our rest is stolen from us along with everything else.
Have you ever been very aware of your vulnerability to the enemy? How has fear or anxiety played into that? What worries or concerns were filling your head when the enemy attacked?
Paul understood this principle. Look at his advice for the Philippian church:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:4-7)
Paul, like Peter, pleads with believers not to be anxious. Instead He says to pray.
Not pray and plan.
Not pray and worry.
Not pray and anything else.
That’s what is so exciting AND frustrating about all this…our role in it is so small. It is simply to COME to Him and learn from Him (back to Jesus’s words in Matthew 11 again).
But this is not the kind of prayer that sounds good to us or others…it’s not an impressive procedure. This is the kind of praying that makes us feel stupid. The “why am I bothering Him with this stuff” kind of praying. More and more I’m convinced that’s what He is offering to us. Peace that comes only from honestly opening our heart to God by talking to Him about our boring, yet stressful stuff and waiting for Him to lift the weight off of us.
Again, think about it…kids don’t have that filter. They ask about EVERYTHING from bandaids, to money, to more ketchup, to help with a shoelace…nothing is too dumb to bring to Him…where did we get the idea that He only likes to help with the big stuff, and only after we have tried everything on our own.
And looking back again at Philipeans 4:7 what is Paul’s experience of what happens when we do this?
God’s peace becomes the defense of our heart.
God’s peace protects us! Think about the foolishness of it…surely He doesn’t mean trust Him for EVERYTHING? But this is truth–
It is our irrational trust that produces unfathomable peace.
Have you ever thought of the peace of God as protectant coating for our souls. Protection from what? From the enemy—yes, the one that Peter says prowls around like a roaring lion!
When humans are attacked and afraid they respond with one of two instincts—fight or flight. In the physical world these instincts help us stay alive. But what is utterly terrifying is that many of us have not developed the correct spiritual responses to spiritual threat. And I don’t know about you, but I never thought that worrying made me more vulnerable. If anything, I thought it made me more prepared.
But what these scriptures tell us is that our anxiety makes us more susceptible to the attacks of Satan! Extensive anxiety alters our spiritual sobriety and makes us less able to react in faith to the ongoing attacks of the enemy. We can be consumed by fear and worry. We can be destroyed by it. Devoured.
I recently read a great quote from Paul Miller’s The Praying Life:
“Sometimes we have to worry before we can pray.”
The alternative to worrying through life is worrying through prayer. In other words, we don’t need to stop worrying then pray, we need to take it to Him intentionally loading Him up with our burdens. When we tell Him what’s wrong then “throw it” (epirripto) onto Him—could it be possible that He actually takes our worry out of us in part by the process of our spoken surrendering of those things? He does the work, and He ignites our hearts with the desire for peace, but we activate His peace and set His freedom in motion when we obey Him in this? In the “throw down.”
How do you want to react to being stalked by roaring lions? Will you choose to live in an alert, active posture of faith or from a self-protective stance of fear and anxiety? How can you imagine this choice playing out in your real life?
The instinct we need to develop is the instinct to run to the Father for protection, right? Our reaction to fear and anxiety should be an all-out race to the heart of God. And Jesus is saying we can choose that.
But that choice is often really hard. After all, there are vultures to waive off, leggings to acquire, potential tornadoes in the morning (aka, my house) and meals to be cooked. But He. Is. Right. Here. The invitation to live easy and light is still out there. Have you RSVP’d to His invitation yet? Yes, Jesus…I’m coming to that party! Can we let Him teach us to throw down?