“Cast all your anxieties upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Let me begin by saying that if none of the following three paragraphs connect with you, then you are perfectly fine, a good Christian, and 1 Peter 5:7 will be eternally accessible and meaningful. The verse stands nicely on its own. When you are anxious, God assures you that He will take to Himself your fears because of His great love for you. You can stop right here and be encouraged!
However, I have been thinking for a few days about the significance of the verb translated as “cast upon.” It means simply to throw, and has a preposition as a prefix which tends to intensify the action in Greek. The meaning of the word directs us to aggressively throw away our cares to God, implying that we are really not sufficient to take care of them on our own.
Now comes the challenging part. The Greek verb tense is aorist (pronounced erist). The word aorist means without limit or undefined. If you look carefully at the word you see the alpha privative (a – meaning without) and the root (oris) from which we get the English word horizon. Literally the word describes a kind of action that is without a horizon, therefore, without limit or undefined. This is a very difficult syntactical point to understand, but the aorist tense does not have a time relationship (except in the indicative . . . don’t worry about it). It means an action simply occurs. It is not limited to ongoing action (which would be present tense), or complete action (which would be perfect tense).
How does this grammar apply to this beautiful verse? Casting your cares upon God, is not simply an action that you perform each day. Casting your cares upon God is an expression of your union with God through Christ. Because of God’s closeness and deep love, He shares with you the cares of your world. He knows and takes upon Himself those cares as you give them to Him.
As a practical matter, you can limit the weight of burdens by resisting the nearly universal tendency to “engage in the hypotheticals.” Burdens are real enough without endless speculation as to how they might become heavier. What I mean is we think “If this problem is not solved in such and such a way, then a whole new problem will come along. And if that problem arises then this one, etc.” For example, we tend to do this with our children. We worry that telling a fib at age 2, no doubt means the child will become a full-fledged sociopath by 18! That’s probably not going to happen.
Life is too vexing as it is to engage in hypotheticals. You have heard it said that 99% of the things you worry about never happen? Most of the 99% are hypotheticals. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Do not give too much power to your problem, or more weight to your burden.
As a final practical matter, you do need to consciously take your cares and place them upon God’s altar. Additionally, you need to resist the urge to take them back upon yourself on the way out! But even more deeply, a true disciple learns the discipline of allowing God to take and keep these cares as a part of his or her union with Christ. Christ shares in our suffering just as we share in His. So casting your cares upon Him is more than just a part of your morning prayers. It is a part of the deeply mysterious and moving relationship you have with God who cares for you.
Dr. Terry Ellis
January 23, 2012