A banker and financial advisor once shocked me by saying he had become so worried about the state of the economy he found himself walking around his backyard looking for a good place to bury his money. Books by panic peddlers had convinced him that a major economic depression was near and he thought burying his treasure might be the only way to survive.
My friend's fears, however, were groundless. Nearly three decades have passed since our conversation and the dreaded depression still hasn't arrived.
During the early '90s, Gary Moore, an investment counselor, wrote an article that appeared in "Christianity Today" telling of a couple who came to him for advice about what to do with an inheritance they had received. He suggested a conservative investment plan to them, but they showed little interest.
Finally they shared a newsletter with him that predicted a sharp market decline or a crash by 1993. No investments for them. Their minds were made up. They wanted their money available when the predicted crash came -- but it didn't come.
Most things that make us fear and fret are those that haven't happened yet.
Both the worried banker and the couple who feared losing their inheritance were controlled by a crash complex. This constant fear of financial disaster exerts a powerful negative influence on its victims. Those who constantly expect an economic collapse are afflicted in all areas of their lives.
Faith is diminished.
And perhaps most importantly, donations to missions, churches and needed charitable efforts plunge because uncertainty keeps even generous people from investing their treasure in carrying the message of faith and hope to those in need.
What can we do to overcome the fear of losing everything?
We can trust God one day at a time.
Drawing on the experience of investment counselor Gary Moore again yields the following good advice: "We should have serious reservations that God is interested in predicting the stock market through earthly prophets. But we do know that Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said economic anxiety is ungodly (Matthew 6:25-30). When he assured us God will care for us as well as for the birds of the air, he freed us of anxiety to live and give."
This is important because giving is another route to freedom from anxiety. Besides, the economic doom sayers may be wrong again.
We are stewards of what God has entrusted to us and, according to the Bible, we can multiply the rewards of our investing beyond the dimension of time.
We can invest eternally by giving generously. Admittedly, this kind of investing demands faith; but giving to the work of God places our future safely in his hands.
I am motivated daily by the following financial faith building quote of John Bunyan, author of "Pilgrim's Progress," displayed on my office wall: "A man there was, though some did count him mad; the more he gave away, the more he had."
Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He has written more than 20 books and has had articles published in most major Christian magazines. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.
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