Speaking of the current economic challenges in the US and elsewhere, some experts have said that consumers' fears are feeding the economic downturn and keeping them from supporting the needed revival. There are many ways to deal with these fears. In one case, an individual chose to buy a new dress.
No, this isn't the usual story of dealing with stress through shopping. The woman made a conscious decision to trust in the higher source of supply many people know as God or Love.
The news of the declining economy was grim that day, and the purchaser had her own misgivings about whether or not to continue spending when money wasn't coming in at the usual rate. But she'd been praying for the economy and had felt compelled by love to support local businesses that were foundering financially.
So when she stopped by the grocery as usual for the needed food for her family, she also stopped by the clothing store. She felt she was led by God to love.
It took courage, compassion, and confidence in God's goodness for her to spend the money. But her fears dissipated with the feeling of love she received when she made her purchase. The salesperson said she was glad to have a job when her fellow employee had just been laid off because of lack of sales.
In these difficult times of limited finances we can remember that Jesus taught us to love one another. Love is the antidote to the fear that would lead us into hoarding or dreading to spend funds, even on necessary things. Love is also God, infinite good – the same God Jesus trusted when he needed to feed 5,000 people with very limited supplies and no advance notice.
While we may not have to face that big a challenge, we can express love in ways that may or may not involve money – helping others with repairs, spending time just talking with them, offering financial assistance as we are able. Also, by our going into the stores and purchasing goods, employees may get to keep their jobs, pay their bills, and essentially feed their families.
St. Paul captures the spiritual basis for this circulation of good in a passage from his second letter to the Christians at Corinth: "For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality" (8:13, 14).
Supporting local businesses financially during these tough times requires wisdom about one's own financial stability, but to whatever degree we can conquer our fears, we can trust in God's ability to care for us and meet our needs. Conquering fear individually also contributes to helping the community.
It's useful, too, to realize that what we're doing isn't just about spending money – it's about expressing love for the useful and good things in our cities and towns and valuing them. This kind of love blesses everyone.
The woman who decided to spend received extra work in her job within the week, and it was more than enough to cover the cost of her purchase. So she had a double blessing. In addition to what she bought, she had the satisfaction of loving others and supporting them as she would want to be supported. Hymn 58, a poem by Elizabeth C. Adams set to music in the "Christian Science Hymnal," phrases the essence of this concept of thought well:
In Thy house securely dwelling, Where Thy children live to bless, Seeing only Thy creation, We can share Thy happiness, Share Thy joy and spend it freely. Loyal hearts can feel no fear; We Thy children know Thee, Father, Love and Life forever near.