Our God Cares 1 Peter 5:1–11
The first-century followers of Jesus Christ were a peculiar bunch. Or so thought the unbelievers of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Yet the apostle Peter encouraged the brethren to become even more peculiar in the faith. Despite their persecution, Peter admonished them to treasure the salvation provided by Christ, live holy lives, anticipate Christ’s imminent return, and shine in their testimony.
He concluded his Epistle of 1 Peter by telling the elders to feed (teach) the assembly faithfully and encouraged everyone in the congregation to (1) be subject to one another, (2) be clothed in humility, (3) be vigilant against the Devil, and (4) remember others who were suffering just like them for the faith.
Peter also exhorted the brethren to know experientially that they served a caring God: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Thus the conclusion of 1 Peter is a call for sincere, humbled Christians to lay all their worries on God. God is our constant CARE-giver. He is our Comfort, our Anchor, our Refuge, and our Encourager.
God Our Comfort
In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (Ps. 94:19; 2 Cor. 1:3–4).
When Jesus began His ministry, He made the small town of Capernaum, located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, His home and headquarters (Mt. 4:13–16). Capernaum in Hebrew, Kafar Nachum, means “village or hamlet of comfort.” It’s an appropriate name because it was where Jesus brought comfort to many. A man in the synagogue who was possessed by an unclean spirit was set free (Mk. 1:23–26). Peter’s mother-in-law was delivered from a fever (vv. 29–31). A leper, a paralytic, and many others plagued by sickness and torments were all healed and helped by Jesus (vv. 40–45; 2:1–12; 3:7–12).
The Lord God of the universe knows everything about you. He knows your situation and needs. He knows your heart, thoughts, and deep desires. Even when all seems dark and uncertain, we are never alone for He promised never to forsake us (Mt. 28:20).
Since God is a constant comfort, He admonishes us not to fret over troubles and tribulations: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
There’s no need to faint under the weight of sorrow and suffering because the Lord has promised to be our strength, shield, and song (Ps. 28:7). We need not fear life’s countless challenges because the Lord has said, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
God is our comfort. And we can confidently cast all our care on Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7).
God Our Anchor
The Sea of Galilee is known for its sudden, violent storms. The best way fishermen fought a storm there was to throw an anchor deep into the water. In this world we will have endless “storms” and personal turmoil. But because God cares, He has provided a secure anchor to help us weather them.
That anchor is found in the word hope. In Scripture hope generally refers to having “confidence in the outcome.” Peter said our anchor of hope is found in the gospel; it is our “living hope” (1:3). Sin and Satan cause many waves of doubt to overwhelm us. But Christ is the guarantee of forgiveness and heaven. Peter encouraged the persecuted brethren to hope in Christ’s cross, resurrection, and return (vv. 2–13).
Such hope is not blind optimism but a confident certainty. An early church symbol for hope in Christ beyond this life was, in fact, the anchor. Featured on many Christian tombs found today in the catacombs near Rome, Italy, it was based on Hebrews 6:19: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.”
The fisherman Peter would have made his own anchors. He would have carefully selected a heavy stone, then painstakingly hacked a hole through the middle to tie a rope through the opening. During a storm at sea, his trust rested in his anchor.
In his epistle, he presented Christ as a “living stone,” rejected by most people but chosen of God and precious (1 Pet. 2:4). Jesus Christ is our trusted anchor that can never slip or fail.
So when storms of doubt and despair assault, know that God’s anchor holds and that He cares. William C. Martin expressed this truth in his words to the hymn “My Anchor Holds,” written in 1902:
Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest driven soul,
I am peaceful, for I know,
Wildly though the winds may blow,
I’ve an anchor safe and sure,
That can evermore endure.
And it holds, my anchor holds:
Blow your wildest, then, O gale,
On my bark so small and frail;
By His grace I shall not fail,
For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.
God Our Refuge
Emperor Nero torched Rome in A.D. 64. To appease the enraged masses, he blamed a small religious sect called Christians.
Slowly but steadily, unbelievers began persecuting the followers of Christ throughout the empire. The apostle Peter saw the anguish looming for the church. In 1 Peter he instructed the faithful to be glad and joyful, even though they would suffer persecution for a little while. God’s mighty power would sustain them (1:3–6).
As Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe wrote, “God does not promise to protect us from trials, but to protect us in trials.”1 Peter wanted his brethren to realize that God was their only true refuge: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
The word refuge literally refers to taking shelter either from a storm or danger. But it is often understood figuratively as putting confident trust in God or in the “shadow” (protection) of His mighty power.
Using Passover imagery, the apostle reminded the persecuted brethren that God is a refuge from sin. Through Christ alone they were ransomed:
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet. 1:18–19).
God was also a refuge in their suffering: “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (4:19).
Finally, God was a refuge for their safety. Israel viewed the Temple in Jerusalem as a safe haven: “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings” (Ps. 61:4). The safest place to be in the Temple was in the “secret place of the Most High,…under the shadow of the Almighty. Under His wings you shall take refuge” (Ps. 91:1, 4).
These verses probably refer to the Ark of the Covenant inside the Holy of Holies—specifically, to the mercy seat where the wings of two handmade cherubim extended over the Ark’s lid (1 Ki. 6:23–28). With the sprinkling of the blood sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, Israel learned that its safest sin refuge was under the cherub wings of the mercy seat (Lev. 16).
Spiritually, Christians are the “living stones” of a spiritual temple where God, through Christ, dwells (1 Pet. 2:5; Col. 2:9, 10). The physical Temple had a veil that prohibited access to the Holy of Holies. It was torn when Christ died on the cross, symbolizing that we now have direct access to God (Mt. 27:51; Heb. 10:20). Our inner “Holy of Holies” is always available. No other safe place exists. God cared enough to make Himself our constant refuge.
God Our Encourager
Peter also encouraged the persecuted brethren in Asia Minor to stand firm in the faith (1 Pet. 5:12). He admonished them to remember who they were in Christ: elected by and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ and possessors of an incorruptible inheritance reserved for them in heaven (vv. 1–5, 9). Since they faced a season of severe trial, God would be there to encourage them through it.
God uses Scripture as His primary source to encourage: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). And God Himself is our prime encouragement: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus” (v. 5).
King David wrote, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Ps. 37:25). God never forsakes us. He never abandons His own (Mt. 28:20). This enduring truth is based on the infinite love shown mankind at the cross.
In St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, there is a life-size marble statue of Jesus on the cross. The expression on His face depicts horrible pain and agony. What is interesting is the inscription at the base. It reads, “This is how God loved the world!” He loved you and me enough to bear all the physical, emotional, and spiritual agony required to become the once-for-all, final sacrifice for your sin and mine. His promises are sure and steadfast.
Our God is a God who will forever be our CARE-giver. He is our Comfort, Anchor, Refuge, and Encourager. So do not hesitate to cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
- Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bumps Are What You Climb On (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 57.