Cast your anxiety on him [Jesus], because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)
If it's not already clear, I am not a doctor of any kind, and would be a fool to try to prescribe a simple band-aid of spiritual sounding mumbo jumbo to someone suffering the paralyzing effects of panic, anxiety or depression. Yet, I can offer hope to everyone longing for a breakthrough. I am downstream from many of you reading this today, calling from the other side of this valley-you will get through this. I realize many of you have fought this fight for years, but God doesn't want you to lose hope.
For me, it was important to come to the point where I began to realize my anxiety wasn't a thing in and of itself. Rather, my anxiety was a symptom of something else. I found myself saying things like, I'm not going to be able to make it to work today, my anxiety is acting up again. Or, I feel like my anxiety is rising up, I better go lie down.
I was acting like anxiety was a cause vs. a symptom.
That's incredibly frustrating because anxiety is a nebulous enemy. You can't touch it or see it, or even describe it well. At least you can see when your wrist is swollen from a broken bone or see the rash on your face from an allergic reaction. But anxiety, in all its forms, is vague, murky, invisible and hard to pin to the wall.
A breakthrough came for me when I began to see that something was causing the anxiety. In some cases it was something deep down within my heart. Other times it was something right on the surface of life. Most often what was causing me to be anxious wasn't a thing, but a person. Someone was doing or saying something that unsettled me, or was outside of my desired outcome.
I realized most of the things that were keeping me up at night were connected to people and relationships. I was spending hours trying to manage results, replay conversations, control scenarios or protect myself and those around me.
I know first hand that if you're trying to control the world, or the people around you, you're spending a lot of time staring at the ceiling at night.
But, Jesus offers a better way.
1 Peter 5:7 invites you to, cast your anxiety on Jesus, because he cares for you. I love the mental picture of us throwing our anxiety onto Jesus - offloading what's troubling us onto him.
In the original Greek language, the word used in this verse for anxiety means to divide, or to pull apart. That's what happens to our hearts when we are anxious about something. So what is the offer? We can transfer the worry that's pulling ours heart in two to Jesus and find rest for our souls.
Take a moment and excavate below the surface of your anxiety, remembering that anxiety is not a thing in and of itself. Dig down a little deeper and ask the critical questions: What (or who) is pulling at my peace of mind?
What situation or fear or potential outcome is making me feel like I need to manage or control things?
Once you can name it you are on the road to freedom, because when you can identify it you can specifically cast it on Jesus in a meaningful way. You can transfer the weight and concern to his care, knowing he cares about you.
Finally, after a lot of sleepless nights because my mind was racing from one circumstance to the other, I started picturing Jesus standing at the end of my bed. I would take a step back to remember that he is my Shepherd and take a moment to re-sync with his promise to lead me, provide for me and protect me. Once I had him in view, it was possible to resize my named stressors. One by one, I would put them in his hands. I would cast them on Jesus. Why? For one, He is big enough to manage them (duh). And two, Jesus cares for me. He cares about my well being and always has my best in mind. Even if he leads me into a frightful, dark valley, he only does so to make me strong in his power and confident in his presence in my life.
David had this advantage when he fought the giant, Goliath. When he was young, David had to defend his father's flock. On occasion, he fought off a bear and a lion, once snatching a sheep from the lion 's mouth. He knew that it was God 's power that enabled him to do such mighty things, and that confidence spilled over into his encounter with the nine-foot tall warrior.
Jesus cares about you and wants to make you strong. He wants you to learn that he can be strong in and through you. So when anxiety starts creeping in don't generalize about your condition. Stop and think about what it is that is actually making you anxious. Name it. Say it out loud. And cast it on Jesus.
Jesus, what ______ is saying about me is making me angry. Jesus, I 'm afraid of what 's going to happen when I show up for this class at school because of _____, ______ and ______. They are taunting me and making me feel afraid and inferior. Jesus, I 'm worried about my son. Jesus, my business partners, _____ and _____, are trying to rip me off and cut me out of this deal.
Once you can say it, hand your worry to him. In your mind, place the person or situation in the strong hands of Jesus and ask him to manage it for you. Trust him with it while you sleep. Believe that while you rest he will work. When you wake up, thank him for caring about you and the things you care about through the night.
To do so doesn't guarantee that you will wake up to find the problems are gone. But you will be more rested and ready to start the day confident that Jesus will continue to lead you and bring about the outcome(s) he desires.
Living free from anxiety is all about trust. Do you believe God is able? Do you believe he loves you and cares about you? Do you trust him to work in and through the circumstances you are facing to do what 's best for you?
Your answer is found in the cross, the place where God proved once and for all that he loves you unconditionally. The cross is the place where he demonstrated he is able to take any situation and bring through it what is good for us and what brings glory to his name.
Dwell on the cross. Dig down beneath your anxiety. Look up to your Shepherd. Give your worries to him.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)