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Is Fear Messing With Your Finances?

August 1, 2019

Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7

Did you know that the most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not fear”? I was reminded of that when reading Donald Miller’s book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” (a remarkably powerful book about living a better story by proactively co-authoring your life with God).

That fact seemed to jump off the page, as if reading it for the first time. I found it surprising, and deeply encouraging.

The different forms of fear

Of course, some fear is healthy. If a realtor recommends that you buy a house with a mortgage that’ll cost you 50 percent of your monthly income and the thought strikes fear in your heart, follow your heart. And then find a new realtor.

A lot of fear, however, isn’t as dramatic or helpful as the instant fight or flight experience we have when we sense we’re about to get hit by a car. It’s more subtle, more nagging. And it can do more harm than good.

Many of us have had some scarring experience that left us carrying fear around like the extra pounds brought on by too much holiday pie. Its weight slows us down and holds us back.

Fear is normal

Miller’s first take-away about God’s constant refrain to not fear is this: “It means we’re going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around.”

In other words, it’s natural to experience fear, so don’t beat yourself up about it as if it’s a sign of spiritual immaturity. As for not letting fear get the best of us, step one is to acknowledge the fear. Step two is to redistribute the load.

How fear can hold us back

Miller’s second take-away about the Bible’s most frequent command is that “fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.”

It reminds me of this quote from Mark Twain:

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.

God calls us to a greater adventure. To say no, or to give in to fear early in the journey, would be to settle for far too little.

Miller’s final insight about fear is this: “The great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear.” Amen to that!

The stories I’m drawn to the most are the stories of endurance, overcoming great odds, and heroism. They’re the stories of people who moved through their doubts and fears and how their lives and the lives of many others were forever changed for the better as a result.

Facing our fears with gratitude

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~ Philippians 4:6

Let’s commit to this: Every time we feel fearful about anything, let’s take our fears to God. And let’s take God up on his counter-intuitive counsel to give thanks in the midst of our circumstances. Then let’s press on, trusting in his provision and looking for his purpose in whatever we’re going through.

How have you worked through past financial fears? And what fears are you dealing with today?

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