Do You Have a Monster under Your Bed?
FEAR OF REAL DANGER IS A GOOD IDEA. FEAR OF IMAGINARY DANGER DRIVES YOU CRAZY.
Do you have a figurative "monster under the bed"--that fear that keeps you up at night?
I had a monster under my bed as a child. It was terrifying...and smart. It knew when my mother was coming and was sure to make itself scarce when she arrived. But after she left, I knew it would be back.
My mother had a clever solution to my problem. She told me I could use my teddy bear as a powerful machine gun that would destroy that meddling monster for good. I would dutifully point my teddy bear under the bed (at the very least he could be bait!), make those great machine gun sounds little boys are so good at, and shortly go to sleep, confident that my mother's solution had worked.
Monsters under the bed are supposed to be a childhood problem that we gratefully outgrow. But the truth is, we don't outgrow our monsters. They only evolve over time into adult monsters, equally fearful and troublesome if not more so.
Under-the-bed monsters can seem eerily real as we lie awake in the middle of night, anxious thoughts running wild and stealing our precious sleep. They whisper scary "what-ifs" like: What if I won't have enough for retirement? What if something happens to my teenager while he's out with friends? What if this mysterious pain turns out to be something serious? What if I don't get the promotion? Adept at preying on our worst fears and deepest concerns, these monsters seem to know us too well.
But they're not real. These monsters actually live in the realm of possibility, which can seem an awful lot like probability or even reality in the middle of the night. They often vanish by the time the alarm clock goes off but can stubbornly reappear at the most inopportune times, whispering those "what-ifs" and stealing our joy. What are we to do with these fears?
God's Word has a surprising solution: "godliness with contentment."
1 Timothy 6:6:
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,' so that we confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'
How many of your "monsters" have a money issue as their root--a fear of not having or losing money or the things money can buy? Certainly not all monsters can be traced to a money issue, but you may be surprised at how many can.
God's Word says the solution to these types of fears is contentment: being okay with (and grateful for) what God has given us, and trusting Him to provide for our needs (physical and otherwise) in the future.
Contentment is not satisfaction, which is the fulfillment of desire, but rather a peace of mind that comes from a posture of trust in God's will and ways--even when desires go unfulfilled.
We don't have to have the things we want to be content. We don't even have to have the things we're afraid of removed. But we do have to pursue the right things.
Just a few verses later in 1 Timothy 6, Paul instructs us not just to flee from the love of money, but to " pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness" (v.11).
It's not enough to just flee from the wrong things; we must run to the right things.
[watch excerpt below; scroll down for tips for developing contentment ]
HOW DO WE DEVELOP CONTENTMENT?
1. Focus on character
Make godliness your goal. Don't compare yourself to who you could be, but look back to who you used to be and rejoice in how far God has brought you. Look to Jesus as your standard, not the seemingly perfect Christian you know. Seek to grow in Christ-likeness, but also be patient with the process. Sanctification happens over time as we spend time with God in the Word and in prayer and as we are obedient to His instructions.
2. Have a casual relationship with money & a serious relationship with God
It's so easy to get this backwards and instead have a serious relationship with money and a casual relationship with God. When we view ourselves as stewards of the physical and financial blessings God has given us, we remember that we are not the owners but only the managers. A relationship with God, as with any relationship, is not about efficiency. Don't rush building your relationship with Him. Seek an effective relationship over an efficient one, and be willing to put in the time and effort to do so.
3. Let fear push you Godward
Fear and pain can drive us from God or push us toward Him. You don't have to like those seasons, but you can trust the good God who can bring you through them. Seek for help and wisdom in God's Word and quote or read those verse when you find yourself unable to sleep. Claim the power of God through praying in Jesus' name and praying Scripture. Strive to turn more and more of your fear over to the Lord in faith.
TRY THIS PRAYER