6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. 8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:6-9
“Unprecedented” might be the word of the year for 2020, right? We’re reeling from the effects of a global pandemic. School, vacations, concerts, and anything that involves a group have all been canceled. I realized today that my family spent almost the entire spring isolated from other people. For me, the pandemic cut right through the center of my pride and self-sufficiency. It’s humbling. But thankfully, all of us can stand to gain more of the unique strength that comes from humility.
At the conclusion of his letter to a group of Christians spread out across Asia Minor, Peter gave a few pastoral admonitions. These brothers and sisters in Christ were suffering through intense persecution, and Peter’s first piece of advice may seem counter-intuitive to us. He told them to “humble [themselves] under the mighty hand of God.”
With God, humility is always the starting point, because humility is always relative to someone or something else. In this case, it’s relative to the mighty hand of God. The words “mighty hand” are a specific reference to the power of God to deliver His people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Peter’s original audience of Jewish Christians would have understood this immediately.
None of us are truly able to save ourselves. So when we are pressed, the best place to be is on our knees before God, which is where Peter went next. To be humble before God means casting our cares on the Lord with the assurance that He cares for us. Prayer is essential to the humility Peter described, because prayer is a tacit admission that we need help from God. Prayer is a declaration that we don’t have it all figured out. But we also would never take our cares to someone we didn’t think could help us.
Peter’s advice to resist the devil and to stand “firm in the faith” follows his call to humility and prayer. Humility and prayer prepare our hearts to stand against that which stands against us. Christians are not just victims of circumstances like persecutions or pandemics. We also have an active enemy seeking to “devour” us, and he must be met on the battlefield of prayer. Although the devil is stronger than we are, he is not stronger than the Spirit at work within us. A humble faith is a strong faith, because the strength of humble faith is found in God’s power and not in our self-sufficiency.
Finally, a humble faith connects us to a body of faithful believers who are going through the same struggles. This is why Peter reminded the first century church of their commonality with their fellow believers. In His grace, God has given us the gift of other people. Whether it’s a pandemic or persecution, other believers are going through the same struggles we are. Humility connects us to the shared sufferings of others and ultimately to the sufferings of Christ.
Unprecedented times lead us to humility and community. As together we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and reach out to the promises we find in His word, He gives us unprecedented grace and strength to weather any challenge or hardship we may encounter in this life.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How have you been humbled over the last 4-5 months? How did this newfound humility lead you to Jesus?
- What cares do you need to cast on Jesus to receive His care?
- Which cares are you keeping to yourself and trying to fix in your own strength?
- What comfort might you find in sharing your sufferings with another brother or sister in Christ?
Play a game of “Who Would You Call?” To play, each family member gets five slips of paper or index cards. (Assist family members who need help with writing.) For each question below, each family member should write on a slip of paper the name of the person they would call in that situation. When everyone finishes writing a name for that question, read the names aloud. Allow family members to discuss why they wrote that particular name.
- You’re running out of time and need someone to help you finish your chores. Who would you call?
- You don’t understand your math homework and need someone to explain it to you. Who would you call?
- You’re having friend problems and need to talk to someone about it. Who would you call?
- You wake up in the middle of the night, and you feel really sick. Who would you call?
- You’re reading your Bible, and you don’t understand what it means. Who would you call?
After discussing who each of you would call in each situation, point out how great it is that God has put people in our lives whom we can call when we need them. Read 1 Peter 5:6-9 aloud, then emphasize that we can always call God, any time, in any situation. The Bible promises us that He wants us to give Him our cares (our worries and fears) because He wants to care for us. That’s great news!
Spend a few moments praying together, either silently or out loud. Encourage each family member to give God one of their worries or cares by telling Him about it. Discuss what it means to trust that He will care for them and help them in that situation.