An article in the Savannah Morning News in 2008, reporting on stress in America, noted a survey showing that more than three-fourths of Americans pointed to the state of the economy as a significant source of anxiety. Almost half said they felt increasing concern about their ability to provide for the basic needs of their families. One individual was quoted as saying that if the people of the United States “continue to experience these high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time, they are at risk for developing serious illnesses.”
Thinking adults understand that worry over the scarcity of money and life’s necessities is nothing new; it has been problematic for people for a long time, to say the least. Some readers are old enough to remember the scarcity experienced during the Great Depression years of the 1930s. That decade saw people who had never known poverty standing in soup and bread lines and children carrying buckets waiting for a ration of food for their families. Property that had been in the same families for generations was placed on the auction block or, in some cases, simply abandoned. People desperate for work packed everything they could on trucks or wagons and headed to California to pick crops. (John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” dramatically depicts some of the difficulties of that culture.)
Stress affects many Christians; it seems that none are immune to it. The more important concern is how we can keep it from damaging our view of God and our faith in him. In what many view as history’s greatest sermon, Jesus said some things about our concerns for life’s necessities in relation to faith in God.
First, know where to invest your money.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be” (Matthew 6:19–21).
Second, know whom you are to serve.
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
Third (paraphrasing Matthew 6:25–34), know in whom to place your trust. Don’t worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food, drink and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds and the lilies. Your heavenly father feeds and clothes them, and you are far more valuable to him than they are. So don’t worry about having food, drink or clothing. Worry demonstrates how little faith we have in God. Worry makes us like faithless pagans. Our Father knows our needs and will give us all we need every day if we live for him and make the Kingdom of God our primary concern.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Houston, Texas, lawyer and preacher Edward Fudge, in an essay titled “When the Sky Falls,” said, “In the midst of [present] circumstances, believers do well to remember that God has no special deal with America, and America has no guarantees from God. However, actions do have consequences, and societies cannot plant one crop and harvest another. Whether God still chastens nations directly or simply allows their own moral corruption to take its course, the effect is the same. Godly people often suffer and die alongside the scoffers and scoundrels. Faith does not mean that God will always protect us from evil now. It does enable us to trust him, whatever may come, in the confidence that he will have the final, victorious, eternal word.”