Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
And Jesus said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death;
remain here and keep watch." (Mark 14:34)
Jesus cast his burdens and anxiety on God in the Garden of Gethsemane. Regardless, he sweat drops of blood? Why?
Whatever “casting your burden” on God means, it does not mean the removal of the emotional and physical experience of stress.
So, what does “casting your burdens on God” do for us?
There was a time, when hiking with my young sons, when they wanted me to carry their backpacks. But instead of carrying their load, I used it as an opportunity to teach. I taught them how to adjust their backpacks for greater comfort and how to carry the weight with the correct posture. I bought them good hiking shoes and told them when to rest. I always provided them words of encouragement, reminding them of my love and confidence that they could carry the load.
The same is true with God. He teaches us to carry our burdens, though he doesn’t always remove them. He uses our burdens as an opportunity to teach. He provides the closeness of prayer, joy of fellowship, refreshing from his Word and presence of the Holy Spirit to carry our own backpack.
Note the juxtaposition of Peter’s words: “be humble” verses “cast your anxiety.”
Pride says, “I” can do anything. It demands control of life. Control of the world around you. Control, in turn, means you are vulnerable to what you CAN’T control, causing stress.
If you believe you can control everything, you make yourself vulnerable to stress. Why? Because you can’t control everything!
Remember the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
“Serenity” (the absence of stress) is the humility to know what you can and can’t control. How is that achieved? Through wisdom. But wisdom about what?
That’s where Peter’s imperative to “cast your anxiety on God” makes sense. That is, when you “cast” or shift your focus, knowledge and energy on God, He will help you develop wisdom. Wisdom to walk the journey.
God is not going to carry your backpack, but He does show you HOW to carry it with love, encouragement and wisdom.
Wisdom to know what to control and what to release. Wisdom to make better life choices and reduce your stress. Wisdom to navigate healthy relationships, that can encourage rather than stress your need for love and support.
There will be times when life’s journey feels like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s OK to feel anxious. Stressed. “Grieved to the point of death.” Victory is not in your ability to quell your emotions, but trust God in mind and spirit. He holds on to you while YOU carry the back pack — encouraging, loving and leading the victory!
Dr. David Zuccolotto is a former pastor and clinical psychologist. For 35 years he has worked for hospitals, addiction treatment centers, outpatient clinics and private practice. He is the author of The Love of God: A 70 Day Journey of Forgiveness.