The writer has, on a number of occasions, sat with those who are about to teach the Word of God and heard them speak of the difficulty of having a message that will be relevant to everyone present. All would agree, however, that the subject of care, or anxiety, is pertinent to all believers, from the sunrise of awakened understanding to the sunset of life.
The word "care" found in 1 Peter 5.7 has the meaning of "to draw in different directions, distract, (and) hence signifies that which causes this, a care, especially an anxious care" (Vine). It is "care that brings disruption to the personality and the mind" (Zodhiates). Few, if any, would deny that they have not experienced this disruption. The stresses and strains of life take their toll and, if left unchecked, can dominate hearts and minds until they result in obsessive mental occupation with care and worries, making it difficult, if not impossible, to give due attention to other worthy matters.
When addressing the subject of the future provision of our needs, the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount urges us to "Be not anxious" (Mt 6.25,31,34, RV), to be free from care. The fowls of the air do not sow, reap, or gather into barns, and yet know no hunger. The lilies of the field do not work or spin and yet are clothed with glory greater than was seen in Solomon's garments. Why, therefore, should we be consumed with care about these matters? In the world such issues constantly occupy the minds of men and women. Fears of recession, meeting the needs of a growing family, employment prospects, health, and general unease cast their shadow over daily life. Years ago an eminent teacher of Scripture often advised, "The believer need not fear the rising cost of living". It has proved to be a statement that still holds true.
Anxiety, however, can be due to other pressures. On a busy day when she had guests in her home and was "cumbered about much serving" (Lk 10.40) the sight of Mary sitting at His feet caused Martha to protest. The Lord understood that she was "careful and troubled about many things" just as we may find our minds in turmoil, not with the needs of tomorrow, but with the pressures of today. The demands of employers increase. The difficulties of handling the varied responsibilities of life, with or without a family, and assembly activities, crowd in until the mind is in daily turmoil.
Against this background what does the Scripture have to say? Paul, who knew much of the pressures of life, addresses the subject and provides good spiritual advice. "Be careful about nothing" (Phil 4.6, JND), he writes, but how can this be done? "In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let you requests be made known unto God." He does not state that every worrying matter will disappear, but he does pledge that "the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus". The verb "keep" has the meaning of mounting guard over, or garrisoning with an army. The believer in the midst of emotional tumult, who in faith leaves the request with God, can have a guarded mind in which the peace of God reigns. But remember, there must be prayer before peace.
Peter, who had also experienced cares and anxieties pressing upon him, has further advice for the troubled as he writes, with Psalm 55.22 in mind, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Pet 5.7). The instruction to "cast" is to cast the burden away from oneself and to place it completely on another. And not merely some of our cares, but all of them can be dealt with in this manner!
This is not abdication of responsibility; nor is it turning our back on, or denial of, the matters that cause concern. It is taking the Lord at His word and resting content that He is in control. Too often we attempt this but continue to bear the weight also, as if He were not prepared to take the load, perhaps even thinking it to be an impertinence to ask. But if prayer, as we have seen, will find a response from heaven, so will faith exercised in this way. Why? Because He cares deeply for you. In a frenetic, evil world where cares, worries and concerns abound, let us hear this voice and cast them all upon Him. We will learn that He keeps His promise and is the great Burden Bearer.