In a French lesson, at school, we read a story entitled ‘the naïve peasant.’ It was about a simple man who was walking down a lane, carrying a heavy pack on his back. A passer-by, on horse and cart, offered him a lift. After a while of travelling along in silence, this kind man turned to his companion and saw that he still had the bag over his shoulder. ‘My friend, why don’t you take that heavy load off and lay it on the cart?’ The peasant replied, ‘Because I do not want to tire your horse!’ We can be like this with prayer; giving our burdens to the Lord, yet retaining them at the same time. (See 1 Peter 5:7. You can’t ‘’Cast’’ your anxiety and keep it at the same time. If you’ve ‘cast’ it, then you’ve let it go.)
This passage shows important ways in which we can overcome anxiety:
- The most obvious way is by thankful prayer (6, 7). The message seems to be, ‘Give God your heavy load of cares and He will give you His own indescribable peace. ’’Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.’’ The Message.
However, there are other verses around this that indicate how we can live peacefully:
- Choose joy (4): We can’t necessarily choose our circumstances, but we can choose attitude. Choose a ‘count your blessings’ kind of life. Cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude’. This message is so important it is worthy of repetition (see 3:1). ‘’Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! ’The Message.;
- Be gentle (5a): You tend to reap what you sow, and gentle people don’t normally trigger storms around them. Some people create lives of stress and tension for themselves by being aggressive and belligerent and harsh. They live in ‘bad weather’ conditions because, to a large part, they create them;
- Recognise the closeness of Jesus (5b): His presence is near; His coming is near;
- Think clean (8): Your mind matters. As you think, so you will be. Watch where you allow your thoughts to alight. ‘’Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.’’ The Message.
- Live right (9): Choose holiness; follow good examples. Godliness and peace go together (Romans 8:6)
There is a way to cruise, free of turbulence, in blue skies, above the storm clouds of worry. We don’t find it easy to reach that ‘altitude’, but the Bible says we surely can.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for your prescription for living without worry. Help me to use it.