08 December 2003 | Nottingham, England [John and Delivon Frances]
Today more than ever before, families are faced with a multiplicity of problems caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, inflation, global food, and energy shortages, unwinding asset bubbles in the United States, debt crises in developing countries, and the lingering impacts of COVID-19, causing related shutdowns and supply chain bottlenecks. In addition, we see governments across our various continents imploding among themselves as they battle to combat these issues. As God’s commandment-keeping people, we need to hold fast to the promises of God, trust Him to lead us in these challenging times, and give us the wisdom to use the resources He has blessed us with wisely.
Many families face struggles ranging from job or income loss to the numerous consequences of dealing with the anxiety and fearfulness of an uncertain future. We are told in Psalm 37:25: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” We can have hope in these uncertain times if we put our full confidence and trust in God, as He will provide. Throughout a family’s life, they will transition through stages of various life cycles. For example, young married couples are likely to face the challenges of setting up a household, managing debt, and teaching children about money. However, an older person (60 plus) will be more interested in wealth transfer and retirement issues. Wherever we are in our life stages, God has a plan for us. At the same time, He invites us to work with him managing our finances. From our experience, we offer 13 practical ways that can help you work through a financial crisis:
- Don’t panic or make impulsive decisions. (Proverbs 11:14; 12:15; 15:22; 19:20, 21)
Perhaps the worst thing you can do in a crisis is decide to purchase an item when you are experiencing emotional turmoil. Slow down and seek godly counsel from spiritually mature people whom you trust. Seek out people with testimonies who are willing to share to encourage others.
- Prioritise your spending. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Put your family first, and start with the essentials: tithe and offerings, food, utilities, shelter, and transportation. After that, prioritise your expenses from the most important, such as insurance, to the least important.
- Reduce expenses and be content with less. (1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5)
The Lord instructs us to be satisfied 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.
- Increase income. (1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Thessalonians 3:10)
Look for temporary employment with essential businesses (grocery stores, drug stores, cleaning, food delivery, package delivery, etc.), or be creative, like selling items of value on Facebook, eBay, Amazon, or other social media platforms. Explore all benefits available to you, such as unemployment or other types of support. Do not let pride become a barrier.
- Build an emergency fund. (Proverbs 10:4, 5; 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.
- Be generous and serve others. (Luke 12:16–21; 2 Corinthians 8:2, 3; Galatians 6:9)
God’s economy is often the opposite of man’s economy. For example, being outwardly focused on the blessing and serving of others in a time of crisis brings us joy, while hoarding does not. In Scripture, we see the church of Corinth, which was generous out of an abundance of joy in a test of affliction and severe poverty.
- 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 hours on Netflix and social media, with developmental ones, such as forming a book club and reading a spiritual book together.
- Be one with your spouse. (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:28–33)
Financial struggles 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 your spouse’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 crisis time, e.g., what will each member of the family sacrifice for the good of the whole family.
- Trust in God’s promises. (Psalm28:7; 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 we wait until a crisis comes then we won’t have the resources or the depth necessary to maintain our faith well.”¹ 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; 22:3; 59:16; 107:13)
It’s easy to praise God when things are going well. Choosing to worship 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 God. It also invites His presence as He
dwells close to us when we praise Him.
- Focus on the eternal, not the temporary. (John 6:27; 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, which brings us peace.
- Pray. (Psalm 65:2; 66:19; Romans 12:12; Hebrews 13:21)
God’s Word calls us to pray. Jesus prayed regularly. Prayer is saying that, apart from Christ, we 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.
In these uncertain times, many people fear an economic collapse. If that’s your fear, what type of goals do you set to avoid an economic collapse in your personal situation? Perhaps you invest in gold, buy a farm in the country, or stock up on food. Before proceeding, however, your question should be: God, what would You have me do with my resources? The goals might be entirely different, or they might be the same. However, the basis for setting them is a critical issue. If the goal comes from God and His Word, then it’s a faith goal. But if it comes from our own fear or panic, and we just assume it’s the right thing to do, then it’s a mistake.
John Francis is Family Ministries and Stewardship Director for the North England Conference. He works alongside his wife, Delivon, and they are both certified family life educators.
This article first appeared in the October – December edition of Dynamic Steward, published by the General Conference Stewardship Ministries Department. All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved [Photos: Pexels].
¹ John Piper, “How Can I Have Faith in Times of Crisis?,” November 28, 2007, Desiring God.