Japan and Taiwan are feeling the pain of plummeting exports. Nearly five million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and even the New York subway system is collecting less cash as fewer people need a train to get to work. We face the uncertainty of a crumbling economy. The government is throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to try to prop it up like golden shovels against a collapsing sand castle, and we anticipate its crashing down and taking those expensive shovels with it. It is easy to be afraid.
Even in a cheerful economy, and even if we have solid jobs, there are a lot of things to fear. The danger is all around us. Professional kidnappers could snatch our kids to sell on the black market. Our cell phones might be giving us cancer. The asbestos from our elementary school 40 years ago might be giving us cancer. The preservatives in our food might give us cancer. If we eat out, we might get Hepatitis A or E coli, or mad cow disease. There are not enough bees pollinating the world's crops and orchards. The car tires we cannot afford to replace might erupt on the freeway, causing us to crash into a tractor-trailer and explode in a fiery ball.
There are plenty of things we can fear. Yet, fear does not protect us. If we concentrate on every potential danger and anticipate every disaster, we still may not be able to stop them. Even if we buy brand new tires, they can still pick up a nail and end up thub thubbing on the freeway. Even if we never ever eat out, we can still get E coli food poisoning from our spinach salad at home.
We have a responsibility to be wise stewards, to make good decisions, and yet as the great poet Robert Burns said so notably,
"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley."That is, no matter how hard we try and how carefully we plan, things can still go terribly wrong.
It's Murphy's Law, after all. The buttered toast always lands face down, and if you have a vital presentation to give on Monday, the kids are sure to throw up all Sunday night.
Fear is natural, and it is a normal response to uncertainty and danger. Yet, fear is not a virtue like caution or prudence. Fear simply robs our lives of joy. The question is therefore, how do we face joblessness or drive on bad tires we can't afford to replace? How do we look at a pile of bills that we have no earthly way of paying and not worry?
Clothing the Lilies
Obviously God is the answer. Obviously we need to believe by faith that God truly does love us and cares about us and can be trusted with our lives. We need to believe what he said in Matthew about the lilies of the field,
"Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." - Matthew 6:30-33Certainly trusting God and putting Him first is the answer. But, while it is easy to say we need to trust God, it is often much harder to do. Simon Peter knew Jesus personally and had watched him perform many miracles, and yet as he walked out to Jesus on the water, he was still frightened by the wind and waves, and he began to sink. We understand Peter; we're just like him.
So, how can we stop being afraid of the wind and waves when they are loud and crashing into our faces?
1) We love Him.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment." -1 John 4:18We love God because He first loved us, because He gave His Son for us, which alone is worth all the rejoicing in the world. And as we praise Him and worship Him and enjoy Him, the fear cannot remain.
2) We remember that the waves aren't real.
To us they are very real, and the salt water up our sinuses can be painful. But, in God's power, in God's eyes, they are nothing. To God, the terrible monsters that rise up above us to destroy us are merely origami tigers. They look fierce, but in God's hands they are no real danger. God does not need a good economy to provide for us and pay our bills. If He sees fit to give us a broken down car to drive, then He is capable of holding that broken down car together for us. He is never worried.
Not By Sight
God wants us to learn to live by faith and not by sight. Looks are more often deceiving than we realize. We mistake riches for blessing, and they may not be. We mistake meager paychecks with God's neglect rather than accepting them as part of His purposes for us for right now. Remember what Jesus said to the Church of the Laodiceans:
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." - Revelation 3:17-18These are the times when we decide what we truly believe. Are we playing games or do we really believe that our God is the God of the Universe, who faithfully holds together every atom in our hands? Will we truly hand our lives to Him and trust Him enough to say, as Job,
"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:" -Job 13:15.Are we willing to buy of Jesus gold tried in the fire?
When Peter trusted Jesus, he did walk on water. God fed the Israelites manna every day in the barren wilderness, and their shoes did not wear out. God can do anything He wants to do. He's not worried. And since He's the God of the Universe, and He knows better, then we should not be worried either. Instead, let's offer Him a sacrifice of praise and love Him. Allow His perfect Love to drive the fear far far away.
How To Fight Fear - King's High Way
Letting Go of Fear and Worry - King's High Way
Fearing Fear Itself - Koinonia House