Are you afraid?
Every day we open the newspaper or we turn on the radio or the television and we hear bad news. Our economy is not in great shape. Our government is spending more than it can afford. Unemployment is at near historic levels and showing no sign of getting better soon. We hear reports of doom and gloom almost constantly.
How has this constant barrage of bad news affected you?
As I have been reading reports from churches and other charities across the country the reports seem to share a common thread. Fear. After listening to the constant cries of disaster and doom people begin to grow afraid for their future. When people are afraid, they begin to act in ways that reflect their fear. When we are afraid, we become far more conservative financially, our worries for the future cause us to spend less, pay down credit cards and even save a little more in the bank. When we are afraid, sometimes without even being consciously aware of it, we pull back and prepare for a rainy day; we are, as a society, waiting for the other shoe to drop. This mentality is widespread. The stock markets react violently to even the tiniest piece of bad news and only hesitantly move forward when there is good news. Retail sales and other measures of consumer spending are not especially good at least partially because people are not confident of how things will be next month, or next year. People are afraid.
The funny thing is that most of us have no real reason to be afraid.
Most of us have the same jobs that we had last year and the year before that. Many of us have continued to get the same sorts of raises that we have always gotten. Except for what we seem to be spending on gasoline, our expenses are not significantly changed from what we have been accustomed to for a long time. Obviously there are exceptions. One of my brothers has been out of work for more than two years and he is not alone. Many folks are hurting. The rest of us however, are living pretty much the same lives that we were living before the recession began several years ago. For us, our fear has little or no basis in reality. We are afraid, only because the evening news seems to tell us that we should be and something about that is not right.
Why should we act as if we are afraid if we have no real reason to actually be afraid?
As Christians we have another, even better, reason to resist this kind of fear. Our fear seems to come from our worries about what the President or the Congress will or will not do. Our fear seems to come from our worries about the economy and other things far outside out control or understanding. Instead of allowing these worrisome times to make us afraid, we should remember who is in control. Psalm 20:7 reminds us that “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” And if we even momentarily considered putting our trust in our bank accounts or in our government, Job is there to remind us that “What they trust in is fragile what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold.” Nahum 1:7 tells us that “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Just because we are people of faith, does not mean that we are immune to fear, but the when fear springs up inside of us we remember this: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4)
As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to put our trust in him and not in the fluctuations of economies and governments that we cannot control. All of these things are under his command and it is our job to trust in him. Daniel was literally thrown to the lions but we should remember that “when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” (Daniel 6:23)
We hear bad news every day and honestly, I have begun to listen to the news less often because of it. I am not hiding from the truth, but I don’t need to be constantly beaten with it either. I hope that you will remember that we have no need to fear. Whenever we are tempted to be afraid, we need to ask ourselves a single important question…
Who do you trust?