Summary: We can triumph in our trials if we replace our worry with worship
Are you a worrier? If so, you’re certainly not alone. A 2015 study in Britain found that 86% of adults considered themselves to be worriers. According to that survey the average adult spent one hour and 50 minutes a day worrying, which adds up to nearly 28 days a year. I couldn’t find any similar studies that were done here in the United States, but I can’t imagine that the results would be a whole lot different. That seems to be evidenced by the fact that 40 million adults here in this country are affected by anxiety disorders and over $42 billion is spent each year treating those people.
But for those of us who are disciples of Jesus, being a worrier is a problem. Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta summarizes why in this recent Tweet:
Worry and worship cannot exist in the same space. One always displaces the other. Choose worship.
Although he didn’t word it the same way, I think that is the message Peter has for his readers, and for us, as he wraps up the letter we’ve been studying for the last 11 weeks. In many ways, the Christians of Peter’s day faced a culture that was a lot like ours in the way that it treated those who lived boldly for Jesus. So there was a lot to legitimately worry about. But Peter wrote his letter to those believers to let them know that they could triumph in their trials if they would replace their worry with worship.
Let’s read what Peter has to say about that. Although I obviously won’t have time to comment on the entire chapter in detail, I’m going to read all of 1 Peter chapter 5:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. 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. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
(1 Peter 5:1-14 ESV)
Before the resurrection, Peter was a big worrier. He worried about drowning when he got out of the boat and tried to walk on the water even though Jesus was right there with him. He worried about Jesus being crucified and tried to tell Jesus not to go to the cross. He was so worried about what was going to happen to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that he pulled out his sword and tried to take on a battalion of Roman soldiers.
But here he is about 30 years later and he has obviously learned to deal with his anxiety in a God-honoring way and he shares what he has learned about that as he closes his letter. Peter leaves us with this final thought:
We can triumph in our trials if we
replace our worry with worship
In the dictionary I have on my desk, there are only three words between “worry” and “worship”. But in real life, those two concepts are certainly much further apart than that. So how do I make that leap from worry to worship? Let’s see how Peter helps us answer that question.
There are a number of commands in this passage, but the two that I want us to focus on this morning are right in the middle of the passage and are at the heart of what Peter wants to communicate here. The first is found in verse 5: