Anxiety is real!
Processing 1 Peter 5
Wow! Peter sure knows how to end a letter.
The truths found in 1 Peter rock my thinking and inspire me, but in the midst of suffering, I admit I easily forget and forsake these truths.
Suffering messes with my mind and my soul. That's why Peter's words below are so important.
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
It's when I am in the midst of suffering...it's when you are in the midst of suffering that we are the most spiritually vulnerable and susceptible to being devoured.
Look, suffering produces anxiety.
Anxiety is real.
The more intense the suffering, the greater the anxiety.
The struggle is real.
The United States has just experienced two major hurricanes. The first one, Harvey, devastated parts of Texas and a week later Irma devastated parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. People lost loved ones, pets, homes, and personal possessions. Some lost everything, escaping only with the clothes on their back and are now left homeless. So many are overwhelmed with anxiety. If you were to list their cares and worries you'd be looking at pages and pages. Of course, they are grateful to be alive, but they are also faced with reality. And, in this case, the reality is filled with anxiety. Mentally and spiritually, they are extremely vulnerable.
While some of us are not experiencing this type of devastation and suffering, we all experience suffering. Some suffer because they call themselves a follower of Christ. Some suffer at the hands of their employers, parents, spouses while others suffer physically.
In the midst of our sufferings, we are extremely vulnerable. We are in greater danger of being devoured. Oh, I know this truth first hand. I've already shared suffering messes with my mind and my soul. As anxiety fills my mind, my faith is assaulted. My worries cause me to wonder if God cares that I am suffering. I begin to wonder all kinds of things that God has already revealed to me in His word...but in my "fiery ordeal," I forget. I don't want to suffer. It makes me anxious! Doesn't suffering make you anxious?
Peter reminds me that God knows that suffering messes with my mind and spirit and makes me anxious. Recorded for me and you in 1 Peter 5 is how to deal with anxiety. Oh, this truth is precious. It is the remedy for our anxiety. Spirit of God, engrave these truths on our hearts never to be forgotten.
"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. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:1-11.
Let me break it down or list it out. How do we deal with the anxiety that suffering brings?
- Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. How?
- Cast our anxiety on Him. Why?
- Remember, He cares for us.
- Be sober (calm and collected) of spirit...don't freak out...exercise self-restraint. Why?
- Remember we have an adversary waiting to devour us. But wait...
- Resist him. How?
- Be firm in our faith. How?
- Remember other believers are experiencing the same kinds of suffering and anxieties as we are.
- Remember that after we have suffered, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself:
Repeat as necessary! Suffering is a hard pill to swallow but wash it down with these truths. If the truth about suffering gets stuck in your throat, keep washing it down with these truths.
Anxiety is real. The struggle is real. But God shows us how to deal with the anxiety and reminds us of what He is producing as a result of our suffering. The God of all grace will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.
These truths are not only our remedy for anxiety, but it's also how we keep from getting devoured. Gracious God, help us to understand the truth about troubles and how you use them in our lives to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.
To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen!