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Peace, Be Still

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

When I was little and supposed to be in bed at night, it was almost a routine to get out of bed and go to my parents' room for one more item of business. I knew I wasn't supposed to be out of bed, but the unseen approach to the room allowed me to begin a repeating pronouncement of "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry" before they had time to be mad. Kind of like naming the elephant in the room, I figured if I named my wrong first, then I could launch into "But, I just need..." This might be the way I've viewed humbling myself before the Lord in my approach of him for something I need. Sure, its an honest acknowledgment that I am in the weaker position and at the mercy of their/His kindness and grace, and in that sense could be called humbling myself. But the bullish disposition of my approach was anything but humble. Demanding, yes. Determined, yes. Circumventing authority, yes. Maneuvering to get my way, absolutely.

As I consider this reality about how I approach God, I realized that I really don't know what it means to humble myself before God in a more genuine and meaningful way. The next verse, however, has given me a starting place. Just after the directive to humble myself is the instruction to cast all my anxiety and fears on God. My anxieties and fears, while they have driven me to prayer, are also my clenched hands around the belief that I am in a pickle and need to figure out how to get out of it, have tried many tactics, and can't get any of them to work. Its the disciples sceaming in terror in the boat in the sudden terrible storm: their terror was because they couldn't see a way out, were frantically demanding a game plan, and had forgotten that the One peacefully sleeping in their midst didn't need their skills, plans, understanding, or ideas. He was in control. So, perhaps, humbling myself is refusing to tell God how to meet my needs or solve my problems or rescue me from the things that are causing anxiety and fear. Humbling myself isn't giving him all my ideas about He could fix this. Humbling myself isn't telling Him what He needs to do and how He needs to do it, "and NOW!" Humbling myself is sitting down in the boat and trusting Jesus. Trusting, "because he cares for you" and having the faith to let Him be the caretaker without my telling him how to do that.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9

Humbling myself may then be, at least in part, giving God the complexities of the problem-solving task. But immediately after this part of the prayer instruction, Peter linked the idea of resisting the devil. So in this prayer of humility where I am asking God to take my fears and anxieties, His enemy is prowling around to devour me (or certainly to devour my trust in God's care for me.) Just like in the Garden, he is the master of subtly planting doubt and effectively sewing cynism. "You should be anxious because remember last time you prayed in faith and nothing happened? Silence. You should be cynical about this act of prayer because look at all those looney Christians who say crazy things about health and wealth that you know aren't what God prioritizes." Our enemy can even use "good theology" to diminish my faith, trust, and confidence.

Resist this, is the instruction for prayer, and act of humbling myself. Cynicism and doubt are my self-protective means for handling my fears. But He has asked me to let Him handle my fears. Humble myself in the face of the need not to be the fool or be disappointed. Stand firm in the faith because all the other people who are praying fervently are equally assaulted, yet story after story of God's faithfulness is still true. He cares for you.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11

He began by reminding me "in due time" and he ends by acknowledging I will "suffer a little while." I trust and have faith that in due time, HE will restore and bring strength. He will make me firm and steadfast. In due time. Lingering in suffering for a bit does not affirm cynicism and doubt's compelling voice because God has included it in the process. Suffering for a bit and then receiving the rescue and restoration "in due time," are part of His care and grace, not in contradiction to it. His mighty hand has got this and is holding me so I am not left alone to survive the stormy boat by my own skill, ideas, plans, or preparations.

Humble yourself, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.


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