The Cares of This Life

Cares of life can choke God's wordThere’s a lot to be concerned about in this life, isn’t there? Making a living, maintaining a marriage, raising children, getting along with coworkers and neighbors, car and house repairs, health concerns, preparing for retirement, church ministries, political discord, the latest negative news. And that was before a global pandemic and rioting in the streets. We truly have a lot to occupy our thoughts and time. Sometimes we feel we can’t keep up with it all.

But the cares of this life can have a detrimental impact in unexpected ways.

In Mark 4:1-9, Jesus told a parable of a sower—a planter—planting seeds. Only a few of the seeds took root and grew. Some were eaten by birds, some landed on rocky ground, some were choked out.

The disciples asked Jesus the meaning of this parable in Mark 4:10-20. He said that the seed was the word of God. The seed being eaten by birds is a picture of Satan snatching the word away before it can germinate from people who don’t understand (Matthew 13:19). The rocky ground represents a stony heart that might have soil enough for a plant to sprout, but not enough to nourish the plant. Some people seem to believe, but then never progress because they never dealt with the bedrock in their hearts. Then some of the word is choked by “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things” (verse 19). The ESV Study Bible notes say, on the account of this parable in Matthew 13, “Competing for nutrients from the soil, weeds choke out the good plants, which are then unable to reach maturity and bear fruit.”

Some say that this parable is about the gospel, not the whole word of God. Even if that’s the case, we can choke out the word of God in general when we’re distracted, can’t we? I’ve experienced not being able to take in or rest in God’s promises because my attention is on my cares.

In Luke 21, Jesus mentions the cares of this life again, along with “dissipation and drunkenness.” These distractions can preoccupy people from warnings to prepare for His coming, and then that day will “come upon you suddenly like a trap.”

How can we keep the cares of this life, this world, from distracting us from more important things?

“Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NKJV; other versions say “anxieties” or “worries”). The word for “care” is the same Greek word as “cares” in the two passages above:

But before we can cast our cares on Him, we have to back up to the verses that come before this:

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:5b-7, ESV). 

We have to humble ourselves before God, acknowledge Him for who He is and ourselves for who we are. He’s our sovereign Lord. He made us. He redeemed us through Christ’s death on the cross. He is wise. He has the right to call the shots. But He is also love. He is kind. He is our provider. He cares for us.

Then we “cast our cares” on Him. The Greek word for cast means “to throw upon; to place upon.” In prayer and in faith, we place them on Him, knowing He loves us, knowing He can take care of the problems and meet our needs.

How do we know these things? From His word.

Psalm 1 tells us that the person whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” and who “meditates day and night” on it is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.”

Instead of our cares choking out the Word, we sink our roots deep into it. When concerns swirl in our minds, we take our thoughts captive and remind ourselves of God’s truth.

I don’t think it’s going too far to say that spending time with God is the most important thing we can do each day. Some seasons of life, we may have half an hour to an hour to spend with the Bible. Other seasons, we’re doing good to get five minutes. But I like what Sue Donaldson says here: “I figure if I can’t give God five minutes anytime on any given day, I’m not taking Him and our relationship seriously. ”

Psalm 1 speaks of not just reading, but delighting in and meditating in God’s word. We can write a verse out that spoke to us and keep it before our eyes through the day. We can listen to the Bible itself or to Christian music, sermons, podcasts while we’re driving, cooking, etc., setting our “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

Some years ago, I attended a ladies retreat where, on the last day, the speaker had us write down a concern, burden, or prayer request on a small piece of paper. Then she asked us to fold the paper and turn it in. She collected all the papers and put them into a bag, then tied the bag onto a collection of helium-filled balloons. Then we all went outside. I think she prayed, giving all the concerns we had collected to the Lord. Then she released the balloons, symbolizing releasing these concerns to God.

Honestly, at the time I thought it was a little silly. And I wondered what the person who eventually found the little bag would think.

But a few days later, something I had written on my little paper came to mind. I don’t even remember what it was now. But as I turned it over in my thoughts, suddenly I remembered: “I gave this to the Lord. I don’t need to keep worrying about it.”

Perhaps some physical way of handing our cares over to Him might help cement the idea in our minds. I don’t think releasing more balloons would be good for the environment. One friend used to cup her hands and raise them up to the Lord while praying, physically reminding herself that she was giving her concerns to Him. Maybe a prayer journal would be a concrete way to note the concerns and requests we’ve given over to God.

Giving concerns to Him doesn’t mean we never pray about them any more. But when we do, we remind ourselves that He invites us to place on Him all our cares, and He’s the only one who can take care of them. Some prayer requests last a lifetime. But when God does answer others, we can record how and when. What an encouragement to faith to look back over that record.

What helps you to cast your cares on God?

1 Peter 5:7

(Sharing with Hearth and Home, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Purposeful Faith,
Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Legacy Linkup, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee), Share a Link Wednesday, Faith on Fire)

 

36 thoughts on “The Cares of This Life

  1. I really like the balloon idea! (not that I’m going to do it, but the visual is sticking in my mind now). If nothing else, it was a powerful reminder every time that issue came up that, as you said, “I gave that issue to God — I’m not going to worry about it anymore.” Just now I have thought of an issue worrying me and I am going to visualize it in that balloon 🙂

  2. I needed to read this post his morning, Barbara. My word for the year is “humility”. It seems as though God is not done teaching me about humility this year. My first inclination is to worry my cares to death. A few days later, I can’t even remember what I was worried about. I do need to learn to cast my cares upon God much sooner than I currently do. It would give me so much more time to think about important things, like God’s good word.

    • Humility is one of those funny traits–if we think we’ve got a handle on it–we don’t. I think it’s one of those things we’ll continually learn more and more of as we go along.

      I tend to worry, too. As often as I take my cares back, I need to give them back to Him.

  3. I’ve done a similar thing with writing our worries with a group and then attaching them each to a balloon. If I remember correctly we tore our notes into pieces before we attached them, maybe in case someone actually did find them. 🙂 Things like that make an impression on me.

  4. Barbara,
    Now, more than ever, I feel a need to be in His Word and in His presence. I know I couldn’t do life in these times without that precious time! Humble is a verb that keeps popping up in my reading. It is hard to set aside our pride and self sufficiency and totally lean into the Lord. I can be pretty stubborn. In my quiet time, I often raise my hands and I visually lay my burdens and cares upon His altar. It helps to remind me that I have released them into His loving care. Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Thanks so much, Bev. It’s so odd that we think we need to give an issue a good going over in our own minds before we give it to God. May I cast my care on Him sooner. I agree about humility. It’s probably something we’ll never grasp fully in this life, but hopefully we can grow in it.

  5. Sometimes we need a visual image to hold us in truth. I recently taught 1 Peter 5:7 to kids, and used a fishing image for “casting,” God wants us to fling our cares to him like we would cast a fishing line!

  6. Thank you for the reminder that casting our cares on the Lord doesn’t mean we forget about them. It means we remember Who is going to tend to those very cares.

  7. Wonderful encouragement. It’s so important to give out cares to the Lord.
    Pinned.
    Thanks for sharing at Legacy Linkup

  8. Great encouragement for these times, Barbara. I attended a women’s conference years and years ago where the speaker likened stuffing our concerns and cares into a trash bag, just cramming it in, tying a big knot, picking it up by the knot and throwing it with all we’ve got to the Lord. And then what she said always stuck with me… after we toss a trash bag do we run after it and undo the knot and start digging around to retrieve stuff out of it? No. Neither should we with our cares we’ve cast to the Lord. It was a great picture lesson that has stuck with me when I want to run after my trash and start digging to take various items back.

  9. I love this powerful reminder to surrender again and again and put God and His Words in the center of our life. My takeaway: “We have to humble ourselves before God, acknowledge Him for who He is and ourselves for who we are. He’s our sovereign Lord. He made us. He redeemed us through Christ’s death on the cross. He is wise. He has the right to call the shots.”

  10. I think the cares of life can make you unfruitful – worry and anxiety in particular. When we humble ourselves, we acknowledge our need of God and give our cares to Him – and leave them there! Great post, lots of reminders and confirmation – thank you.

  11. Thank you for this encouragement. There is power in writing down or naming those things that we struggle with or find challenging. I have done something similar before at a retreat and found such peace in the release. I like the idea of keeping a prayer journal. What a beautiful way of tracking how God has responded.

  12. Our immediate problems can stop us seeing the big picture, and a problem shared is a problem halved. However, some cares are too great (starvation, abuse, poverty) to be so lightly brushed away so others with faith should step up. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

  13. Such good thoughts here, and they fit in with what the Lord has been asking of me also. My fibro has been flaring so badly at night, waking me up from sleep with pain. But I’ve heard the Lord asking me to lift up those pains to HIM right then, as an act of casting my cares on Him. He is so gracious to help, even in those physical ways also. Thank you for these precious words.

  14. Pingback: End-of-July Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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