6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:6-7).
It is one thing to submit and be humble towards other people, but God also commands believers to be humble under the sovereign control of God. The word humble (ταπεινόω; tapeinnoo) means one who bows down to another. In this case, the bowing down is by the believer and before God.
The phrase “under the mighty hand of God” (κραταιός χείρ θεός; krataios cheir theos) refers to the powerful control which God alone possesses due to His sovereignty. It means to learn to be completely dependent upon God, even when suffering occurs. It is trusting that God will provide a way out of the situation.
One pastor writes that the phrase under the mighty hand of God “is an Old Testament symbol of the power of God working in the experience of men, always accomplishing His sovereign purpose (Exodus 3:19-20; job 30:20-21; Ezekiel 20:33-37; Micah 6:8). The readers of Peter’s letter were not to fight the sovereign hand of God, even when He brought them through testings. One of the evidences of a lack of submission and humility is impatience with God in His work of humbling believers (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
The result of this humbling is so that God ultimately will exalt (ὑψόω; hypsoo) lift up and restore the believer. The principle that God exalts the humble was also a common principle in the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:34; Isaiah 2:11–12, 17; Ecclesiastes 10:14). God promises to lift up the suffering in His appointed time.
Being without employment is a humbling experience for me. I have heard it said that a wife and mother derives her significance from relationships with family and friends. On the other hand, I have also heard that men derive their significance from their career, job or what they accomplish. I believe it. I’ll have to admit there have been more than a few times that I find myself having to fight through blue Mondays.
However, throughout this sabbatical period, God continues to be faithful. I am confident that He will provide a ministry position and income at the proper time which will coincide with His calling in my life. So what am I, or any other believer for that matter, to do when facing humbling circumstances?
While we’re in the midst of humbling circumstances, we are to cast all our anxieties upon God. The word cast (ἐπιρίπτω; epiripto) means to actively and with one’s entire being (mind, emotions, and will) stop worrying and trust. Casting literally means to throw a blanket on a donkey. The word anxieties or cares (μέριμνα; merimna) means our worries and concerns. The Apostle Peter is saying that when facing humbling circumstances, we stop worrying by bringing our worries and cares to God and trust in Him and His character. Notice that God commands believers to stop worrying and trust God with “all” our cares and concerns.
Peter quotes from Psalm 55:22 which says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Believers are to cast their discontent, discouragement, despair and even their suffering to the Lord and trust Him (I Samuel 1:10-18; Proverbs 3:5-6).
A wonderful promise concludes this thought of casting one’s cares upon the Lord: He cares for you. He is concerned (μέλει; melei). God is presently and actively concerned about everything we experience on this earth. Submission, humility and trust are the three necessary ingredients to live obediently before the Lord and among other people no matter the circumstances, but especially when we are suffering.
Have you become impatient with God while in the midst of humbling circumstances? Do you find yourself almost shaking your fist at God while asking the question “how long?” Remember to cast those anxieties upon the Lord, like a person throwing a blanket on the donkey. Also remember to not take the blanket off the donkey. Keep it on. Keep it on. Why? Because God cares! He cares for you!
Soli deo Gloria!