Sunday, July 30, 2017

Casting Anxiety

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

God wants us to humble ourselves under His hand. Our human nature tends to rebel against this. We want to be in control, but let's face it, we're not. We are dependent upon God for everything: our lives, our talents, our treasures, even our very breath. If God stopped sustaining us for even a moment, we would just disappear. To be humble is to recognize this fact, to understand and accept our position in relationship to God. It is not to cut ourselves down but simply to acknowledge that God is God and we are not and that we belong totally to Him and are completely reliant upon Him. 

What's more, being under God's mighty hand definitely isn't a bad thing. God's hand is mighty, in the Greek krataios, strong, powerful. But God's hand is not mighty in such a way as to crush us but rather to protect us. We have an all-powerful Guardian, Who, if we humble ourselves and snuggle under His sheltering hand, will care for us in every way. 

God will do even more than that. He will exalt us, raise us up, when the time is right. He will raise us up out of our miseries. He will, one day, in due time, raise us up right out of this world and into Heaven where we will see Him face to face. 

But we must place ourselves humbly in His care first. God is a gentleman. He will never force Himself upon us. He offers us grace upon grace, but He requires us to respond freely to that grace day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute all the way to the very end of our lives on this earth. Then He will raise us up to Himself at just the right time. 

The second verse here is not really a separate sentence in the Greek. The word translated as the imperative “cast” is really an aorist participle “having cast” or in Greek epiripsantes. This word starts a clause that modifies “humble yourselves.” So casting your anxiety on God is part of being humble. When we think about that, it makes sense. Anxiety is merimna in Greek, and it literally means something divided. Anxiety and worry divides us, breaks us into pieces, fractures our minds and hearts and sometimes even our bodies. It tears us apart. It can also be a form of pride. When we let anxiety overtake us and break us down, we are really trying to take control over things we can't change (and fussing because we can't change them) rather than trusting in God and allowing Him to work things out for us in His caring way. When we let go of anxiety, we humble ourselves before God and recognize that His is indeed in charge and will do exactly what is best for us.

Why? Because He cares for us. The Greek verb here is melō. God is concerned for our welfare, concerned in a deeper way than we can even imagine. He takes a personal, loving interest in each one of us. He wants us to be in Heaven with Him forever, and He gives us all the grace we need to get there. We, in turn, must humble ourselves before Him, casting our anxiety on Him and accepting this grace that God may exalt us into His presence and into His arms for all eternity.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, Who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Our God is the God of consolation. He comforts us in all our afflictions. So says Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. But what does that mean? Let's take a look at the original Greek for some clues. 

The two verses quoted here begin with a blessing, eulogētos in the Greek. We are praising God, acknowledging Him, showing our commitment to Him. Why? Because He is worthy of our praise and adoration simply because of Who He is in Himself. He is God, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, all-wise, all-everything. So we begin with praise.

Then we recognize what God does for us. He is the “Father of mercies and the God of all consolation.” The Greek word for “mercies” is oiktirmos, and it points to the deep love God has for us. He knows our miseries, and He is compassionate toward us because of them. He understands us perfectly, and He sympathizes with us in all our difficulties. Even more He empathizes with us, for He became one of us and stepped into the midst of our human suffering. 

Further, this “God of all consolation” actually “consoles us in all our affliction...” The Greek noun and verb used here are paraklēsis and parakaleō, and they are both characterized by intimacy. The consolation or comfort or encouragement that God gives us is personal, designed especially for us and emanating from the God Who is closer to us than we are to ourselves. God meets us in the midst of our suffering, wraps His arms around us, and comforts us in a way that is exactly suited to our situation. He loves us deeply for who we are, each and every one of us, and He treats us as the individuals we are, giving us precisely what we need, first and foremost, intimate contact with Him.

But Paul doesn't stop there. We have a task, too. Actually we have two tasks. First, we must accept God's consolation and respond to it. We must allow ourselves to be comforted, to open ourselves to God's love, and to trust Him to console and encourage us in the way He knows is best. Then, we must pass that consolation on. We must give to others what we have received from God. We must step into another's suffering and love that person in the midst of it. We must offer a personal comfort out of love that expresses true sympathy and even empathy for the situation of another. 

In other words, we who are God's children must imitate our Father, loving as He does and passing along the great gifts we receive from Him, especially the abundant consolation He provides in all our afflictions. 

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Two-Way Street of Love

In Path to Freedom: Christian Experiences and the Bible, Jean Corbon reminds us that “To love means to give oneself and to receive” (33). It's a two-way street. When we love, we desire the absolute best for the loved one and do all in our power to help him or her achieve that best, even if it means sacrificing ourselves. Jesus did this to the utmost extent on the cross when He suffered and died for all of us, His loved ones, that we may have the absolute best, eternal life. 

But there is another side to love. When we love, we must also be open to receiving love from others. Jesus shows us how to do this. He allowed a woman to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. He allowed Mary Magdalene to anoint him with costly perfume. He allowed Simon of Cyrene to take up His cross and help Him carry it. He allowed Veronica to wipe His face. He needed none of these gestures. But He accepted them. He allowed Himself to be loved.

We live in a culture that values independence (at least on the surface). People often believe that if they accept help from others, it will mean that they are weak and dependent, that they can't care for themselves or that there is something wrong with them. This, however, is a form of pride that turns away from love. Certainly there are times when offers of help are deceptive and self-serving, but there are also many times when those offers are extended out of love, out of a desire to give of oneself and help the loved one achieve the ultimate best. Then receiving that love becomes an act of beautiful, humble love in its own right.

Indeed, love is a two-way street, giving and receiving in imitation of our Lord.