Pastor Josef Aalbue composed this letter that provides great direction for helping a person get through the Economic Fears. Refocus, Risk, Recruit, Remind, and Resist are steps that Pastor Aalbue gives to help those seeking help in this difficult time.
Family of Christ Lutheran Church
Pastor Josef Aalbue
I read a recent article which had to do with the fear caused by a crumbling economy...specifically fear of losing your job. I thought it a wise article and a good reminder to us. The insert in the article was entitled "How to handle your fear of the economy." As I read it, I thought that it gave good counsel to people of faith.
We find ourselves is a place that is unsettling to many-either because of the severity of the financial crisis-or because they are too young to remember similar financial crises of the past. This is not the first time this mess has happened...and it certainly won't be the last. Given our economic system and our human nature, people will always find ways to exploit the system to the detriment of everyone else.
Anyway, the issue at hand is how shall we live through these tough times...when fear is all around. I offer these five steps:
1. Refocus: Fear is the enemy. It can distract. It can paralyze. We still have work to do and needs to meet-the needs don't go away. In fact, the needs are even greater in this economy and the sources of charitable giving are drying up as people dig in. God's kingdom work needs doing right here, right now. We are not exempt from the ministry God calls us to just because we are frightened or times are tough. We need to be about our Father's business with confidence and hope.
2. Risk: This might sound irresponsible or unrealistic, but its not. Stop playing it safe and hoarding your resources. The suffering world needs you and the resources God has placed in your hands. Generosity in hard times is a statement of faith and confidence in the promised provisions of God. God has promised to provide. All we need to do it trust.
3. Recruit: In fearful times it is impossible to go it alone. Then you are truly isolated and the fear-mongers of the airwaves will have their way with you. Surround yourself with those who will encourage and support you-and be encouraged and supported by you. You and those you trust will be able to take turns reminding each other that there is a ministry to do, and fear cannot distract or destroy it.
4. Remind: We all need to find ways to be reminded that life isn't finally about stock portfolios or a rising standard of living. Life is about loving God and others. . .and finding creative ways to do that. We need to find ways too remind each other of what is important-maybe a free musical evening or a `stone soup' social or a game night or a clothing drive to un-clutter our closets. (A news article last night said that the Salvation Army is running out of clothes to give out.). There is so much that we can do together to weather this storm. We still have a lot of resources and the power to use them if we only are reminded of our ability-not our poverty.
5. Resist: Just say `no' to the fear and the cautions to selfishness. Don't join the `pity party.' It's tempting to get swept up in the latest figures and fears. It does you no good. It does our society no good. Commit to look for and to speak words of hope.. .not that we will avoid the economic pain, but that we will rise above it and use what God has given us to alleviate the suffering and calm the worried. Make Romans 8:31-39 your daily word of strength every day during these hard times. It is an amazing word of hope!
Scholars have studied why the early Christian Church grew so rapidly in the first centuries. One of the most important reasons was that when epidemics swept the Roman Empire all who were healthy (including doctors) headed for the hills. But, the Christians stayed behind to nurse the sick...often sacrificing their own health for the sake of their neighbor.
I would suggest that this is a similar time and opportunity. Instead of pulling in and reducing our commitment to God and God's creation, let us redouble our efforts and become an extraordinary people for an extraordinary time. With God's help we can do it. We can be the blessing God created and calls us to be.
Pastor Josef Aalbue of Family of Christ Lutheran Church Vancouver, WA.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.