Steven Furtick - How To Cast Your Anxiety
God has been speaking to me recently that I am too surprised by my struggles and part of the reason I struggle so much is because I'm surprised when I do. It's as if we've set an expectation of salvation that if we come to Jesus and lay all of our burdens at the foot of the cross that none of them will climb back in the car with us and go home. How many have ever laid your burdens down in church and found out they followed you home with a few friends you never met before? It's like, "I came to Jesus to get rid of my struggles, but my struggle didn't even start until I came to Jesus. Before I came to Jesus, if I wanted to cuss you out I just cussed you out, and I felt better. I didn't care how you felt or what God thought. I felt better, and that's all that mattered, but now I've got this Holy Ghost on the inside of me, and when I cuss he makes me feel bad about it. Now I can't sleep until I apologize to you. It got harder"!
Peter says everybody is struggling. Everybody around the world is suffering. You have to take the two together. You can't come to a cross for salvation where the Savior suffered for you and never expect to suffer in your desire to follow him and be like him. Tell the person next to you, "You're supposed to suffer some". That's what Jesus said. That's what the CEO said, the CEO of the galaxies. The Man said that. The Master of the Milky Way said that. He said, "If they hated me, what makes you think you're always going to be popular and liked and accepted"?
So, I pray that's inspirational for you to know that you are supposed to suffer. It helps us, because the Enemy often operates in our lives in the secrecy and in… He's very sneaky. The Enemy is sneaky. He wants to sneak up on you. You think life is supposed to be easy because life looks easy for everyone else, but you don't know. You have no idea. "That's easy for you, Preacher". Well, you get up here and preach. You know? You don't know. I don't know your struggle, but I know there are some struggles and some sufferings that come with the package. The call to follow Christ comes with a cross. We get that. Especially in this time, Peter is like, "Look, you want to be a part of this movement. The only way to really see the glory of God revealed is to suffer sometimes, to sit with your suffering and even with your sadness".
We're teaching people they can get swole without getting sore. It's supposed to hurt sometimes. It's supposed to strain sometimes. That's the spiritual muscle fibers breaking down so they can grow back together stronger or something like that. I don't know. What surprises me is that knowing we must suffer sometimes because our Savior suffered… Let's be honest. Some of our suffering is not because of our Christian faith; it's because of our… You said it. He said, "Because we're stupid". I didn't say that. I wasn't going to talk to the guests like that. There are a lot of first-timers here today. I was going to say, "Sometimes we suffer because of poor decisions and we're ill equipped", but you said stupid, so I'll go with it. Sometimes we suffer because we're stupid. It surprises me that with all the suffering we already have to deal with we somehow, as a species, will invent new ways for ourselves to suffer and experience pain and call it progress.
As if there's not enough to worry about in the world, we invent torture devices…I mean communication devices that keep us constantly connected to everyone's opinion, everyone's offenses, and we feed on stuff… The Enemy is looking for someone to devour. We feed on stuff, and we feed our minds with things that eat our peace alive. Then we pray for God to give us peace after we open the front door and let the Enemy show his fangs and stand right there. I'm really praying that God would show us a strategy for this, because it seems to me that some suffering is inevitable, but certain suffering, like the suffering of our shame and the suffering of our sin that Jesus already paid for, is dealt with. Wouldn't it be unthinkable for us, as God's children, to suffer under pressure he never intended for us? We live in a culture of performance.
The interesting thing about 1 Peter 5:7 is that it preaches so well as a singular verse. Even when I was a little boy, my mom used to play me this tape of Psalty the Singing Songbook. He had one song on there, and I used to fall asleep to this song. I will cast all my cares upon you, I lay all of my burdens down at your feet, And anytime I don't know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon you. I will cast all my cares upon you. I like verse 7. I wish I didn't have to be bothered with verses 6 and 8. You know, these Bible verses were not in there when Peter wrote the letter. It was just a letter. It was one thing.
In fact, let me show you something. I showed this a few years ago to the church, but you weren't here yet when I was teaching this, and we need to catch up because this is one of the craziest, most mind-blowing things God ever showed me. I brought two Bibles to church today. Yeah, that's right. I'm going to preach twice as long. No, I'm going to get you out on time, but this is a double-barrel revelation God gave me. One translation of it, the one we read from, the New International Version, breaks it up. He says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you". It's a capital C, and it's a new sentence and a new thought. It's a promise we can claim or, rather, it's a command we can obey, and I like it. I like casting all this stuff.
I like casting all these cares, like Psalty said in the King James Version. I like casting all of that on him, all the stuff I don't want to deal with and all the stuff I can't control anyway. I like to just give that over to the Lord. I like to just lay it all at his feet. But in the original language of the Bible (this is what God showed me a few years ago) verse 7 was not a new sentence. It was a continuation of verse 6. When you read it as a continuation, it helps you to understand why sometimes we're trying to cast our anxieties on God and they keep coming back like a boomerang with extra velocity. We are trying to skip to verse 7, which we want, without verse 6, which we resist. Now verse 6 starts by saying, "Humble yourselves…"
See, I don't like that. I want to be the star of the production. I want to be the MVP of the game. I want everybody to accommodate my preferences. I want people to read my mind. I want to be the center of other people's affection. I don't want to humble myself. I'm not even sure I really know what it means, because all I ever see humble is a hashtag, where people are bragging about something and then hashtagging it #humbled, like that makes it humble when you follow your bragging with a hashtag. For Peter, humble was not a hashtag. Peter said humble is a way of seeing the hand of God in history that knows, "I'm just a small part of this. I'm just a little dot. I'm a little bitty child of God in his big strong hand". "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you".
What a relevant verse. I feel like Peter must have been able to see into the year 2018 and see that we would be living in an age of self-promotion, that we'd be living in an age where rather than praying for opportunities we would post before we prayed. Rather than sitting back and listening and learning from people who have something to teach us, we would be so intoxicated on our own opinions and our own point of view and so sucked into algorithms and echo chambers of people who think just like us and speak just like us, and before long we would be inebriated by our own vantage point, inebriated by images. He says, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you". Then, if you're willing to go through verse 6, you get to verse 7. They're not separated by a period. Just a comma. Lowercase c. "If you will humble yourself…"
This is the foundational message for this series: to take back your mind you have to humble your heart. When you do that, when you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God… What does that mean? What kind of image is Peter trying to evoke? Well, for a Jewish person, the hand of God recalls the sovereign act of God when he rescued his children from Egyptian slavery. There, when God spoke to Moses, he said, "Pharaoh is not going to let the people go unless a mighty hand compels him". This is Exodus, chapter 3. "Unless a mighty hand…" There's the phrase. "…compels him". The hand of God for us is mostly a comforting image, sentimental, but symbolically, for the people reading this who had a little bit of background, they would know the hand of God is confrontational. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. They come from the same hand.
See, God will use the same hand to oppose the proud that he will use to distribute grace to the humble. My question is…What do you want to be on the receiving end of? The posture of your heart determines that. Yet there's a little bit of confusion, because it seems like we want God's hand to do certain things for us. I like the hand of God when it is filled with his provision. I want what is in God's hand that I can't give myself. Just a show of hands, while we're talking about hands. How many have seen God provide for you in a special way and you were suspecting, "This had to be God. This could not be me. This could not be people"?
Wave your hand if you've ever seen God provide for you. I don't just mean money to make a car payment or to make the deposit on the apartment when you first got married. It can be God gave you energy when you were so exhausted and you didn't even know how you were still going. People would ask you how, and you would make something up. But deep down you knew, "If I really told them how they wouldn't understand it, because there's an invisible hand of God that is making things happen that I can't even explain". So I like the provision. You know how he broke the bread in his hands. Peter was there when Jesus broke the bread with his hands, so he might have been flashing back to that incident when he said, "The mighty hand of God that can provide for you". Or maybe he was thinking about the hand of God in terms of God's protection, how God drove back the sea with his hand so his people could cross through until they got safely through.
If you've ever had God protect you from you, you're grateful for the hand of God. If you've ever had God protect you from people who were in your life… In fact, sometimes the way God will protect you is to reach down and remove you from situations you like, that you are actually praying for God to leave you in. God will sometimes reach down and say, "I know more than you. I'm big; you're little. I'm wise; you're limited. I'm infinite; you're finite. So come with me. I'm going to put you over here, because if you stay with them, I know where it's going to lead".
Peter says you can either fight that or you can go with it, because it's the hand of God. How many have ever had God protect you? I want him to provide for me, and I want him to protect. Protection and provision, but there's a third dimension of God's hand: his plan. That's the part I have a harder time with, because I like my plan. Why are you looking at me like you totally trust God that his way is better than yours? You know half of our prayer life is trying to convince God to get on the same page we're on so he can do what we want him to do that he should have already done. He's running a little behind schedule. "But we'll forgive you for that, Lord, if you'll just come on and do it right now. It's okay. You've got a lot you're taking care of".
I get confused, honestly. I get confused because sometimes I don't know what part is God's job and what part is my job. It's not always so simple. "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God". But then God told Moses, "I'm going to bring you out with a mighty hand. It's going to be my hand that brings you out". Then he asks him, "What's that in your hand"? There seem to be two hands at work here, and the issue is always who is in control. A lot of my anxiety comes because I get confused about who is in control. I get responsibility confused with sovereignty. I start thinking that because God has given me responsibility God has also given me control, and that's where I get stressed out. A lot of my anxiety comes from making it about me when it's not about me.