Coping with Anxiety
In 1 Peter 5:6–7, the Apostle Peter wrote to the Christians spread across the Roman Empire who were suffering persecution from the unbelieving Jews and gentiles: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” In this passage, Peter shows in what way his readers were to face the anxiety they were feeling in this situation: they were to cast their anxiety upon God. By doing so, they would recognize their own powerlessness and weakness, as well as God’s power to take care of them.
“All your anxieties” is a reference Peter makes to the anguish the Christians felt due to the hostility and persecution of the pagans. It included fear of death, fear of suffering, preoccupation with family and friends, and other similar fears. The word translated “anxiety” comes from a Greek word that means “part,” “piece,” or “division.” The anxious heart is divided, pulled in all directions, and in constant affliction.
Christians must “cast on him” all these anxieties; that is, they should put all their preoccupations and fears into the powerful hands of God and rest their afflicted hearts. That is done, in practice, through prayer and petition, in which we confess to God our weaknesses, tell Him of our anguishes and needs, beg for His favor and grace, and rest confident that He has listened to us. It is implicit, although not said, that remaining with these anxieties would be a form of exaltation and pride.
Thomas Schreiner writes:
Worry is a form of pride because when believers are filled with anxiety, they are convinced that they must solve all the problems in their lives in their own strength. The only god they trust in is themselves. When believers throw their worries upon God, they express their trust in His mighty hand, acknowledging that He is Lord and Sovereign over all of life.
Peter encourages his readers to cast their cares on God “because he cares for you.” Even though it didn’t seem like it, God was taking care of them in the midst of their suffering, not necessarily ridding them of pain, but not permitting it to go beyond their limitations and giving them grace to endure and remain faithful. God was not insensitive to their suffering. God’s care for them may also be a reference to what He has prepared for them at the coming of Christ (1:3–7).
This exhortation by Peter reflects the teaching of many psalms that encourage the faithful to unload their burdens on God (Ps. 22:10; 37:5; 55:22), as well as the teachings of the Lord Jesus against anxiety (Matt. 6:25–34). Christians are encouraged to trust in God and rest in Him in the midst of the most terrible of sufferings, confident that the all-powerful God is taking care of them, even though this care is not always perceptible.