He Cares For Us
OCTOBER 13, 2022
by Sean Nolan
Don’t you hate phone trees?
As soon as the automated messages start I begin hitting the “0” key in hopes of getting a shortcut to a live agent.
And when I finally get to a real flesh-and-blood person, I’m almost always impressed with how well they take care of me.
There’s that word: care.
In a world of automation and self-service, it’s almost offensive to be cared for. But I don’t think the information age is to blame. I think we’re hard-wired for a sinful independence. We are used to taking care of ourselves.
Peter’s words come as a shock:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
I didn’t understand anxiety in my twenties. It didn’t start to creep into my life until my thirties. As a result, I’d memorized only the second half of this passage. Only upon a more recent reading did the paradox of it strike me.
I’ve been striving to cast my cares on Him in moments of anxiety, not heeding the first command about humbling myself. I’d not grappled with the contrast between his might and my fragility.
I’ve done this to myself!
I only call the customer service number after I’ve exhausted all of the options for self-service.
Sadly, this is too often true in my Christian walk as well. I believe I can help myself, instead of admitting my dependence upon the Lord.
All my attempts to carry my own burdens have been poor attempts to live independently of God.
As a “good” Christian, I wouldn’t say I was trying to justify myself…but I certainly wasn’t resting in the justification made freely for me by Jesus, that’s for sure.
I’d wait until the load had gotten too heavy to start smashing the “0” button on my prayer phone to cast my cares upon the Lord while functionally living in denial of the fact that if I had humbled myself earlier on the load wouldn’t have accumulated to a near-breaking point.
What is being humble if not just the simple admission of our need?
Our need for grace. Our need for a savior. Our creaturely need to live in dependence upon our Creator.
Some believe the problem stems back even further. You can hear an echo of it in Eve’s words even before she tastes the fruit. A self-justification that not only was she obedient to God (in and of herself) in not eating, but also added to his word by not touching either:
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3)
We’re hardwired for pride. To prove ourselves fit for the kingdom. To earn our keep instead of receiving his grace.
Perhaps that’s why in Peter’s encouragement he goes on to say:
Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Part of humbling ourselves is realizing that if the devil can’t tempt us to sin, he may just tempt us to self-justify. Was that the precursor to our mother Eve’s downfall?
Both sin and self-justification have no need of God. Both assert their independence of him.
But at the right time (Romans 5:6), God gave us not a 1-800 number to navigate an automated phone system, but a real flesh-and-blood Savior. He’d embrace limitation and vulnerability and always depend on the father (John 8:29) so that we’d be set free to receive his care again. In the dependence he modeled for us, we see our need exposed, and our pride cast down. We can cast our cares on him, for he truly cares for us, but we find it takes a great deal of humbling ourselves to admit our need in the first place.