Most people, including Christians, have pretty thoroughly bought into the teaching of the world that we are to become self-sufficient, and as powerfully in control of our own destinies as we can be. So, we have this strong tendency to want to take care of ourselves, with no help from anybody. Unfortunately, this may include God. Many of us have been taught that “God helps those who help themselves”, as though that idea came from Scripture. It did not. The Lord wants us to learn to depend upon Him. He has told us in Proverb 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding”. He is there for us every minute of the day or night.
I Peter 5:7 invites us to cast our cares (things that make us anxious and stressed) upon the Lord, because He cares for us. Our cares are, generally, those things that are negative for us (or potentially negative), and are out of our control (we can’t fix the problem). When we are frustrated by our inability to fix the problem, or our inability to get in control of an event, we get stressed. When we are stressed, we are “in the flesh,” and not “in the Spirit.” We do not want to live there.
Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Jesus is offering us His peace. There is no better peace anywhere. This is deep tranquility in our spirit and soul. You see, with Jesus there is never an emergency. He is Lord of this universe, and in control of everything. No emergencies. He knows that when we get stressed, our peace is stolen from us. When our peace is gone, we are in stress….in the flesh. This is when we are trying to fix things in our own wisdom and our own strength. This is when we make mistakes, say things we regret. He wants us to be in the Spirit, so that those around us are blessed, so that His will can be accomplished in the situation, and so that we are blessed because of these things. He offers to give us this peace on a constant basis.
Even though we have tried to give our cares to the Lord, we seem to take them back into our own hands, and re-enter the frustration and stress. This happens when God doesn’t fix our problem as soon as we want, or when we’re afraid He won’t fix it the way we want. God wants us to trust Him, so that we can leave our cares in His hands, and let Him take care of them. This may include Him directing us to be involved in the solution. It may not. We must leave that to His wisdom. We must leave the final outcome to Him. He does know best.
We read in Phil 4:6,7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Many people have said, “I have prayed and prayed, but I still am worried and stressed”. They express skepticism about the word, “thanksgiving” in this verse, because they don’t want to thank anyone for their problem. We need to have another understanding of God’s intentions when He arranged to have that word used here.
In order to appropriate the peace of Jesus into our minds and hearts, our thanksgiving should be on this order: we thank Him because He is in control of His universe, and He will use His sovereign control on our behalf because He loves us, and He will take care of us. He is our perfect loving Shepherd, and we are the sheep of His pasture. Therefore, our trust in Him can be so deep and complete that we can relax and count on His involvement in our situation. He will take care of us in the way that is best for us. We can be at peace.
Each of us will be far better able to release our cares to Him, and appropriate His peace, after we go to Him in prayer and ask Him, directly, the questions listed below. After we ask the questions, we need to provide time, get quiet and listen for His answers. He will answer in the way He knows is best for us. The questions are:
1.Are You really in control of Your universe?
2.Do You really love me?
3.Will You take care of me?
Yes, our minds will tell us that we have read about each of these matters in God’s Word. Our cognitive memory will remind us that His Word tells us that these are true. However, in addition to our cognitive memory system, we also have a feelings memory system. Down in our feelings memory system, we have memories from early in our lives of times when it felt to us, as a child, that nobody was in control of this world. The situation was scary and/or painful. In our feelings area, there is a message that nobody is in control, and we have to take care of ourselves. The conflict between these two can only be resolved by receiving from Jesus His truth on the matter.
Until that time, the feelings message will ring louder and will win out when a stressful time comes, and then we’ll find ourselves stressed and in the flesh, trying to fix things in our own wisdom and our own strength, again and again. We need to get this problem resolved, through going to Him in prayer with the three questions. He wants you to have His answers. He will answer you in the way that is best for you. Perhaps He will bring a memory back to you that shows you the answer. Perhaps He will have someone say something that will resound like a large bell, bringing His truth to you. The answers are “yes”, and are life-changing.