By Chas+ Williams, Pastor of Grace Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi and Hospice Chaplain
“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.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
I was wrapping up our church’s study of 1 Peter and kind of expected there would not be much of significance in the last chapter. Boy was I wrong! After digging in to the text and listening to a teaching by Alistair Begg, I realized this passage could not be more timely.
In the verses above, I came to see just how closely linked anxiety is to humility. It makes perfect sense. When we struggle to control things that are outside of our control, our anxiety goes through the roof. We engage in that struggle because it is so hard for us to acknowledge our limitations and weaknesses. We are trying to be the ruler of our circumstances; ultimately, we are trying to be our own God.
Each of you has an important role to play in addressing the pandemic. As citizens in this great country we even have a role to play in how we are governed, organized and protected. But not one of us can on our own change the course of this virus or our elected officials. When we find the humility to accept this, our anxiety begins to fall.
The greatest humility exercise is one that was dramatically shown in the movie Rudy. Father Cavanaugh, reflecting on the big picture, said “Son, in 35 years of religious studies, I’ve come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I’m not him.”
I am thankful that God has revealed so much more of who He is than Father Cavanaugh let on. But, that humble confession, “there is a God, and I’m not him,” is the key to throwing away life’s greatest anxieties. We are not God. Most of the things that make us anxious are things we cannot fix. Why not let go of them and give them to the one who can?
There is one more key to these verses. Peter gives a reason for our casting all our anxieties on God. The reason is that he cares for us. That was revolutionary in Peter’s day. The gods were out for themselves; they did not care about us. It can still be revolutionary today. The people I run into who deny God or want nothing to do with faith haven’t convinced themselves that there is no God (though often they declare that to be the case). In truth, they have decided that God is evil or that God does not care. They don’t want there to be a God who would allow their child to be sick or allow this pandemic to rage across the world or … take your pick of evil things we encounter.
When I see that change for people, most often it is because God sends someone (maybe you) to show that he cares. A servant of God enters into the pain and embodies God’s love, and God uses that to turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. When people believe God cares for them, it changes everything. “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.”
Chas Williams is a native of the Memphis, Tennessee area. He is married to Amanda and they have three children: Charlie (18), Henry (15) and Martha Kate (9). They also have one Labrador retriever, a couple dozen chickens and a couple thousand honey bees.
Chas joined the Anglican Mission in America in 2006, planting Grace Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi, where he continues to serve as pastor. To support the work of planting Grace Church, Chas became a hospice chaplain, and over the last 10 years has served in three different hospices and earned board certification through both the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains and the Association of Professional Chaplains. In the winter of 2019 Chas began a new role as a pediatric hospice and palliative care chaplain for the Quality of Life for All team (QoLA), a unique partnership between Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.