Fear. As we go about our daily lives, it exists as an undercurrent to everything we do. It is almost palpable, fueled by daily reports of job losses, stock market fluctuations (mostly down), and business closings. No one knows where the next ax will fall and so we have all retrenched, spending less, giving less, trying to give ourselves some measure of security while the ground shifts underneath us. Yes, indeed, these are scary times.
Scripture tells us not to worry, to instead cast our cares upon the Lord. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The Gospel of Matthew instructs us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). Matthew also instructs us to “look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
The Bible is clear, yet this is definitely one time when following scripture is much easier said than done. It’s only natural to be concerned about the current economic climate. It’s only natural to want to take reasonable precautions. However, when we let fear, rather than prudence, be our guide we have certainly lost sight of the divine instruction. Our fear makes it worse and only serves to compound the problem. In our fear, we decide to stop spending money perhaps more than we need to. Rather than making small, reasonable changes, we make huge ones. One person making that decision doesn’t hurt the world too much. Even 100 people doing the same won’t crush the economy. But when the majority of people decide not to share the money they have, the economy crumbles.
I’m not an economist, and the idea that I am encouraging people to spend money would most likely be considered laughable by those who know me. I am a very frugal person and have always been responsible with money. My natural tendency, as a result of the current fear, is to stop spending. I have to fight myself to maintain our current spending levels, but I do so because I know the money I spend at the grocery store or at the mall or at a restaurant helps pay the salaries of other people who can then afford also to buy groceries or pay for medical insurance. The money I donate to charity enables others to continue to help those who are less fortunate while also supporting the people who work for those charities.
If anything, the current economic crisis underscores just how interconnected we all are. We all need each other to keep the economic engine going. So, while it is foolish to spend outside one’s means. It is necessary that we do continue to spend and share the wealth that we do have. We shouldn’t hoard our money. The only way to fight the fear that is so prevalent is if we all work together against it and refuse to let it define us. We need to follow the Biblical injunction to hand over our fear to the Lord. We need to trust that, somehow, things will get better. And, we need to continue to share the monetary resources that we do have with others. We can’t let the fear win. Reacting out of fear will only make the problem worse.