by CVC Elder Ron Dick
Like many of you, the economic impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic has become particularly personal to my family as my wife was recently notified by her company that her position was being eliminated. Also, although my job as a bank manager is considered essential and I am still employed, my level of stress has dramatically increased as I negotiate the challenges of managing an anxious staff and clients while being available 7-days a week at all hours by phone. The result: much less income, much more stress.
Similarly, many of you are facing struggles ranging from job or income loss, and the numerous consequences which come with that, to dealing with the anxiety and fearfulness of an uncertain future. To compound things, the unfortunate reality of a crisis is it can expose our weaknesses (emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and financially) causing us to struggle and lose focus which subsequently makes us even more fearful and anxious. This can become a vicious cycle which will quickly make you feel overwhelmed and powerless.
In order to break that cycle, I look to God’s truth in scripture for answers as 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” Thus, I ask myself, “Is there scripture which speaks, directly or indirectly, to my situation?” and “How I can best apply it to my current circumstances?”
Here are 20 practical ways, with a basis in scripture, which I have found can help you work through a financial crisis:
- Seek wise, Godly advice. (Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 15:22)
Get advice from those who have successfully navigated a financial crisis by managing their money according to scripture. Seek out testimonies for encouragement.
- Don’t panic or make impulsive decisions. (Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 19:20-21)
Perhaps the worst thing you can do in a crisis is to make a decision in the midst of emotion and turmoil. Slow down and seek Godly counsel from spiritually mature people whom you trust.
- Create and live on a budget. (Proverbs 24:27, Luke 14:28)
When you have reduced or no income, it is important to wisely account for every dollar you spend. You can create a crisis budget using the template from Crown Financial found here or use free budgeting apps such as EveryDollar Basic or Mint.
- Prioritize your spending. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Put your family first and start with the “four walls” essentials: food, utilities, shelter, and transportation. After that, prioritize your expenses from most important (such as medical or insurance) to least important (unsecured debt such as credit cards) and pay them in that order.
- Reduce expenses and be content with less. (1 Timothy 6:8, Hebrews 13:5)
The Lord instructs us to be content when our basic needs are met. However, we live in a culture of consumption that tells us our “wants” are really “needs.” Make the tough choices and cut or defer unnecessary expenses. Some tips can be found here, here, and here. Many lenders and companies are willing to work with you during this crisis and defer payment or service.
- Increase income. (2 Thessalonians 3:10, 1 Corinthians 10:31)
Look for temporary employment with essential businesses (grocery stores, drug stores, cleaning, food delivery, package delivery, etc.) or be creative such as selling items of value on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Explore all benefits available to you such as unemployment or stimulus money. Do not let pride become a barrier.
- Build an emergency fund. (Proverbs 10:4-5, Proverbs 21:20, 1 Corinthians 16:2)
Look to set aside money to be used in the event of an emergency. If you’re working, reduce your expenses and build up your savings. If you’re not getting an income, look at #6.
- Be generous and serve others. (Luke 12:16-21, 2 Corinthians 8:2-3, Galatians 6:9)
God’s economy is often opposite of man’s economy. For example, being outwardly focused on blessing and serving others in a time of crisis brings us joy while hoarding does not. In scripture, we see the church of Corinth who, in a test of affliction and severe poverty, was generous out of an “abundance of joy.” Crown Financial has a list of ideas on how to give more of your time, talents, and treasures here.
- Avoid debt. (Proverbs 22:7, Deuteronomy 28:43-45)
While the Bible never calls debt a sin, it discourages and equates it with being in bondage and a curse. Going into debt during a crisis through the use of credit cards or loans is done because it is often the simplest, easiest path to get money. However, it is short sighted and creates a larger obstacle which may harm you long after the crisis is over.
- Grow spiritually and practically. (1 Corinthians 3:18)
Studies show that keeping yourself mentally, spiritually, and physically engaged during a stressful time improves your outlook and emotional response. Keep to a routine, get exercise, and stay connected with people. Replace mindless activities such as Netflix and social media with developmental ones such as Right Now Media Bible studies, or Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (free for the first 14-days), or do a Bible study by looking up all scripture references in this article.
- Help others. Ask for help. (Matthew 5:42, Acts 20:35, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 13:16)
It all belongs to God, so you should be rich toward Him by caring for and loving others with what He has blessed us. If you have extra, help others. If you are hurting, it is okay to ask for help. Reach out to CVC via email or call (440) 746-0404 for guidance or opportunity to serve.
- Be “one” with your spouse. (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:28-33, Mark 10:8)
Financial struggle and stress are an unhealthy combination for most marriages. Recognize your marriage is more important than any crisis and “lock arms” by loving and caring for each other, putting the other’s needs ahead of your own, and making thoughtful decisions together.
- Involve your children. (Proverbs 22:6)
Explain and teach your children, at an age appropriate level, about God’s word and what activities you will do as a family during this time, i.e. – sacrifice, no cost family time, etc.
- Be honest and humble in dealing with creditors. (Proverbs 3:27-28, 1 Peter 5:6)
It is tempting to “cheat on your taxes” or not give money owed to someone when you have it simply because you are anxious or fearful. As I was once told, it is always the right time to do the right thing. Do not avoid creditors, but call them and be honest about your situation.
- Trust in God’s promises. (Psalm 28:7, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 15:13, Hebrews 13:8)
John Piper once said, “You must cultivate and preserve a confidence in God when you are not in a crisis. If you wait until a crisis comes then you won’t have the resources or the depth necessary to maintain our faith well.” If your faith has no depth, you will struggle and want to rely on your own understanding and power. Focus on growing in this area each and every day.
- Praise God in the storm. (Psalm 9:9, Psalm 22:3, Psalm 59:16, Psalm 107:13)
It’s easy to praise God when things are going well. Choosing to praise God through a crisis can be a challenge but the truth is that God is also present in our pain, our suffering, and our times of darkness. When you praise God, you acknowledge He is sovereign, faithful, and merciful among many other things. Praise gets our focus off ourselves and back on to God. It also invites His presence as He dwells close to us when we praise Him.
- Acknowledge God’s sovereignty. (Job 42:2, Luke 8:25, Matthew 10:29, Acts 4:27–28)
Nature is not sovereign. Satan is not sovereign. Man is not sovereign. A virus is not sovereign. God rules them all and only He is sovereign. Knowing this truth, we can say what Job said, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
- Focus on the eternal, not the temporary. (John 6:27, John 16:25-33, Colossians 3:1-2)
When you are focused on the eternal, you are focused on the unchanging character of God. You are storing up treasures in Heaven. You are focused on the bread of life. All else is fleeting and fails. For some of us, this means limiting our exposure to social media and TV, which increases anxiety and worry, and increasing our time in the Bible.
- Pray. (Psalm 65:2, Psalm 66:19, Romans 12:12, Hebrews 13:21)
God’s word call us to pray. Jesus prayed regularly. Prayer is saying that apart from Christ you can do nothing. Prayer keeps us humble before God. Prayer is an expression of faith in God’s power. Prayer is something that God uses to equip us and change our hearts. Prayer draws us closer to God and is a reminder that confidence in God trumps fear, thankfulness trumps selfishness, and understanding his love for us unleashes our love for others.
- Find rest in Jesus. (Psalm 23:1-2, John 10:27)
Everyone needs rest. However, we encounter constant stress, anxiety, and fear due to the uncertainty of our financial situation which is exhausting and robs us of our peace. Still, we think we can find peace and rest if we can simply overcome our circumstances which is ultimately futile as the world’s idea of security is an ever-moving target. The world offers us many places to look for it, but it can never deliver on the rest our souls long for because it is our separation from God that ultimately fuels those feelings of unrest.
Yet, we can still have hope as God invites us to rest through His Son, Jesus Christ. When the Lord is our shepherd, he leads us to the places of peace we need in spite of our circumstances. Consequently, if you find yourself in a need of rest or peace, look to the Lord. Allow him to lead you into green pastures and guide you alongside still waters. Trust him to take you where you need to go for the restoration of your soul. Trust in Jesus Christ, the good shepherd, as your Lord and Savior. In Him lies true rest.
If you would like to know more or need help with any of these topics, please reach out to the Generous Life ministry at Cuyahoga Valley Church. Generous Life provides opportunities for people to learn about and live a blessed life by embracing biblical financial and stewardship principles in order to become a Christ-centered steward who gives generously, saves regularly, lives debt free, and understands God’s perspective on money and possessions.
During these unprecedented and challenging times, our objective is to disciple and encourage those that are hurting, help all who are in a place of fear move to a place of faith through God’s unchanging truth, and unleash the generosity of time, talents, and treasure of the church as a witness to the world of the hope and grace found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you have feedback, financial questions or topics that you would like to see addressed in a future blog, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to serve you.