God’s Mighty Hand Protects and Cares for You - a mid-week reflection
God’s Mighty Hand Protects and Cares for You
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
The thought that God’s mighty hand protects and cares for us is very comforting at any time but perhaps especially so now and in the midst of the pandemic. These words of the Apostle Peter actually draw upon psalm 55: 22 where the psalmist, King David, writes: Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. It would seem that David’s’ anxieties arose from the attacks of false friends which made psalm 55 particularly appropriate to the situation in which Peter was writing, a time of hostility, of betrayal and of persecution for the early Christian community. Peter was calling them to humility in the face of this persecution. He was calling them to show humility rather than pride because pride can then manifest itself as anger. Instead, like King David in psalm 55, Peter called the Christian community to take the long view and to trust in the power of the Lord. Showing faith in his mighty hand. The current national and international crisis may not stem from hostility, betrayal or persecution, nonetheless in the face of all that is happening at the present time we too need to take the long view and trust in the mighty hand of God.
The mighty hand of God. It’s a familiar phrase in the Bible. “It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above” as we read of it in Isaiah 48: 13, and “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand ” as we learn from Isaiah 41: 10. Most usually, the mighty hand of God is connected in thought with God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” (Exodus 6: 1). But here in 1 Peter it is more a reminder, I think. A reminder that God can intervene in human affairs and that he can bring blessing out of the acceptance of difficulty and even of suffering rightly borne. In short then, it is a reminder to take the long view remembering that everything is within the ambit of God’s sovereign will.
“Cast all your anxiety on him” says Peter. On him. On the Lord. And that word ‘cast’ literally means here ‘hurl’ – throw all of your anxiety on the Lord! Why? Why? Well, the reason Peter gives for the absence of anxiety echoes Jesus’ own words in Matthew 6: 25 – 34 and then again in Matthew 10: 28 – 33: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
The wonderful comfort in this is that all of our cares and concerns matter to Him. You matter to Him. Your friends and family matter to Him. Your neighbours’ matter to Him. Those visible but yet somehow invisible people we see on our TV screens matter to Him. We all matter to Him. God is not indifferent about His people’s misfortunes. So, hurl all of your anxiety upon Him because the truth is that the very act of casting our cares upon the Lord often changes them.
And remember. Remember that for now, he will bear the anxiety. But for the future, he offers us abundant hope. Yes, anxiety and even grief are now present. But never forget that hope and that God is near. Always, always near.
These words of Peter are an encouragement, I think, for us to pour out our hearts to God in prayer at this difficult time and in the light of the knowledge of His concern, remembering that we cast our anxieties upon one who always hears our cries and who always cares.
Why not give it a try like this? I rather like this idea for praying together that I’ve ‘borrowed’ from All Souls Langham Place (I’m sure they won’t mind!).
So, “Pray for seven people for seven minutes at 7.00pm”