As a child I learned that verse about “Casting all your cares on Jesus, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) The repetition in the King James version made it kind of sing-song and easy to remember, and it was vaguely comforting, but it seemed too lightweight to handle life’s difficulties– just a general reminder that someone cared about what you were going through. Paul’s prescription for anxiety seemed much more practical for everyday life: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:5) And doesn’t everyone long for peace in return for worry?…the kind of peace that passes all our understanding of the present circumstances? I lived here and taught here and claimed the promises of Scripture for decades.
Until one day this year when it wasn’t enough. Not that it isn’t true, every word of it, but sometimes it isn’t about anxiety or fear so much as the growing weight of grief over situations that have no resolution, and the weariness of wrestling with hard circumstances in hope and praise and faith, day after day. ..the struggle to see truth, hold on to truth in this world, when nothing makes sense. When the heart grows heavy with sorrow till you feel like giving up, sometimes what you really need is Someone big enough to carry the burden for you, so you don’t have to any more.
And suddenly that old verse from the past came back to me in light of Easter. “Because He cares for you” takes on new layers of meaning when you are looking at the very rugged reality of a bloody cross and an abandoned tomb. From this vantage point, it is clear we are not talking about a bland platonic caring in the general sense. See, this is how much Jesus cares, that He comes down to us in fragile flesh, and lives amid our brokenness; that He weeps and laughs and eats with us; that He takes the weight of suffering and ugliness for all of us from Beginning to End so that He can make everything new. This is a love that is measured in suffering– one that embraces our own without hesitation or effort– a love that stands alone in its intensity. It is no coincidence that the Latin word for suffering is passio, from which we get our word, passion. Isaiah the Prophet described Jesus’ passionate love this way: “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering…..He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) This is a God who cares about our emotions and our experiences intimately, and He is telling us to cast all our care on Him, because He can carry it for us.
So for all the harassed and distracted…the disillusioned and the disappointed…the tired of trying, and the waiting for answers…anyone who is overcome with the intensity of caring in this sin-broken world, there is this invitation to cast it all upon Jesus, into the care of the One who was broken by us and for us. And maybe in some mysterious way, when we feel overwhelmed by the brokenness of this world, we draw closer to the heart of Jesus–participate with Him somehow, and touch His suffering– this passion that is powerful enough to re-shape Creation. Perhaps that is what the Church-Planter meant when he proclaimed “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)
After a difficult year of uncertainty and anxiety and loss, here at the beginning of a new season, we can cast all our caring on this Savior who carries us, and just rest here in the light of Easter. And hope is pushing its way through to the surface, under the warm Spring rain, because the reality of Jesus’ resurrection is the answer to all those impossible situations we care about. Easter is only the beginning.
This is grace: God joined us on the floor of this earth. God did not stay far from our pain. He did not judge it from a distance. He did not pity it from the other side of the universe. He became it.KJ Ramsey, This Too Shall Last
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.2 Corinthians 1:3-5