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Driven by fear?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

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When a popular talk-show host said recently that most of the choices people make are driven by fear, he really caught my attention.

I began to think, People do stay in jobs they don't enjoy because they're afraid of poverty or unemployment. Some of my college friends married people they knew were not exactly right for them because they were afraid no one else would come along.

The TV host has a point. But something inside me rebels against being driven by fear, even in little decisions. The thought of many people enslaved by fear strikes me as an issue deserving serious thought and prayer.

One of fear's basic slogans is "What if?" It's an invitation to speculate about scary prospects, about circumstances that don't exist at present but presumably could. Fearful speculation begins with un-reality - with conditions that aren't yet factual and may never even come to pass. What if is hardly an auspicious starting point in the effort to discover what is.

Biblical tradition includes two contrasting accounts of "what if" thinking. In Genesis 3, it's the essence of the serpent's words in the Garden of Eden: "What if God is holding out on you, keeping for Himself a really special treat, by forbidding you to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?"

And in the New Testament, the devil tempts Christ Jesus with an invitation to speculation: What if God was only kidding when He declared, "You are my beloved son"?

Adam and Eve fell for the tempter's line, but Jesus did not. He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Luke 4:8). He refused to give in to fear of inadequacy and failure. He refused to speculate. His trust in God brought him through temptation and became a foundation essential to his healing ministry. A similar trust can guide our everyday decisions, too.


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