Yesterday was a tough day. I just was not feeling well and worse, something was nagging in my soul that I just couldn’t put a finger on. I could feel despair creep in like a cloud dimming the afternoon sun. My physical pain wasn’t any worse than it has been in the past week but my heart was heavy. Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve wrestled with keeping my mind focused on the task that God set before me, not the giant picture, but the daily business of life. So, what am I troubled about?
I turned to my daily devotion and, as God is always so appropriate, it was on anxiety. Anxiety? I would never admit I have or ever had anxiety. I’m just not an anxious person. But God is showing me otherwise; gently He reminds me of how I tend to hide my anxiety and how, in doing so, I fail to bring Him glory.
“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)
How is humbling yourself before God tied to our proper casting of anxieties on Him? I pondered this all afternoon. I thought I was pretty good at casting my cares on God. I thought that because I knew, in the depth of my heart, that He really does love me beyond measure, that I understood how to deal with troubles. What does, “casting my cares on Him” mean? Does fully trusting God mean I won’t have fears? Does it mean that some day, when I mature to some point of spiritual stature that my heart rate won’t rise when bad things happen? Life is real; it is hard sometimes!
The Holy Spirit is so gentle with us. With me, He just asks me pointed questions like: “So, do you think your stoic attitude is working?” “Are you really casting all your cares on Father when you just keep pretending everything is okay, when it’s not?” “Do you think that’s just another form of pride?”
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…” This is the first step in casting my cares on Him and truly ridding myself of anxiety. But, even before this and quite possibly the reason I don’t humble myself before God is that I so often fail to admit that I HAVE anxiety. The longer I believe the lie that I need to be the strong one for everyone else, the longer I carry the burden that I was not equipped to carry. This is pride.
As John Piper put it in my daily devotional, “This means that casting your anxieties on God is a way of humbling yourself under God’s mighty hand. It’s like saying, “Eat politely . . . chewing with your mouth shut.” Or, “Drive carefully . . . keeping your eyes on the road.” Or, “Be generous . . . inviting someone over on Thanksgiving.” Or, “Humble yourselves . . . casting your fears on God.” One way to humble ourselves is to cast all our anxieties on God. Which means that one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride. Which means that undue worry is a form of pride. No matter how weak it looks or feels.”
I pondered this truth all afternoon asking God to both forgive me for my pride and to show me what it really means to ‘cast all my cares’. This is where I struggled. It was easy for me to see stoic pride, that was obvious now. There is a fine balance between not whining about your struggles to others and failing to talk honestly with God about them.
I went to bed asking the Lord to still help me understand this, “casting my cares” thing.
I was reminded of my mom, a stoic German woman who rarely shared her pain. I remember sitting across from her in her living room staring at her face as she blankly watched another episode of Property Brothers on A & E. She was in late stage Alzheimer’s and her body was failing quickly. She rocked gently in her chair though it wasn’t a rocking chair, so I knew she was in pain. I asked her but she’d smile with pursed lips and a gentle wink then she’d blow me a soft kiss as if I was still her little 4-year old boy, hiding me from harsh reality. She’d never admit her pain. I liked that about her; but regret not ever asking her if she admitted it to God.
“Here is your answer,” whispered the Holy Spirit, “you need to admit your pain to God.” Then He impressed upon my heart to read this:
“And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14:32-42)
Jesus, fully God, was also fully man. He struggled and felt pain just as we do but He didn’t stoically suppress it, pretending it wasn’t there like I so often do. He was honest about it and took it to the only One who could give Him peace even though His soul was, “very sorrowful, even to death.” He prayed for hours, pouring out His heart to the One who already knew it, “saying the same words” maybe because words often fail when the heart is so heavy. Casting His cares means telling the truth, laying it down, admitting. It means not having it all figured out; it means being okay with not knowing. And, it means knowing that even though “all things are possible with God”, I surrender to His will for me. I should pray for my will – “Remove this cup from me”, yet fully surrender to, “yet not what I will, but what you will.”
I may continue my stoic pretense that, “I’m fine, thanks for asking,” for it’s not my friends or family members that need to carry my burdens but I pray that I learn to become better at being honest with my Lord. I pray that He continues to teach me how to act in the Gethsemane experiences of life, never failing to fall on my face before Him with less words and more tears, over and over, night after night, until I’m overcome with the peace that passes all understanding.
I pray for this for you as well.
Dr. Conners graduated with his doctorate from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1986 and has been studying alternative cancer care for over 20 years. He holds AMA Fellowships in Regenerative & Functional Medicine and Integrative Cancer Therapy.
He is the author of numerous books including, Stop Fighting Cancer and Start Treating the Cause, Cancer Can’t Kill You if You’re Already Dead, Help, My Body is Killing Me, Chronic Lyme, 3 Phases of Lyme, 23 Steps to Freedom, and many more you can download for FREE on our books page.