Take a moment and think about your money. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Did the balances of your accounts flash before your eyes? Did you wonder if your money is as truly safe as it could be? Did you wonder to yourself whether you have enough saved up or put away to deal with an unforeseen circumstance or a crisis? Did your heart just skip a beat? I’m not telling you anything new or revolutionary when I say that our financial situations are perhaps the biggest sources of stress and worry for the vast majority of people in the United States and throughout the world.
Now, take a moment and think about your faith. What is the first thing that comes to mind in that respect. If you’re a believer in God and the promise of Jesus Christ, the thought of your faith most likely brings comfort, assurance, and peace. You know that in times of stress and worry, you can go to the Bible or your pastor or an inspirational blog for guidance. You believe that when a crisis arises, you can turn to God and he can pull you through. And of course, the same can be true when thinking about financial crisis. When our money is tight, we trust that God holds us tighter.
But here’s the issue: most people don’t turn to God with their money until there is a problem. In some respects, most people don’t even think of God when they are dealing with everyday finances or managing wealth. I’m not simply referring to just tithing or giving to your church or missions or any of those other incredible financial pillars of faith we should all adhere to; nor am I just referring to the idea of praying over your finances or intellectually and verbally committing your finances to God. For the purposes of this blog, I’m referring to laying down a pre-thought-out biblical strategy for dealing with the next inevitable financial pressure point, stock market decline or economic crisis. I’m talking about keeping your emotional composure and being able to tap into Godly inner peace when those financial pressure points hit. I’m talking about preparing your heart for financially stressful situations using Biblical passages.
There’s an old saying that goes like this: “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It’s a pretty straight forward idea and easy to grasp. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you will admit that when it comes to money, your plan is often light on details in the face of unforeseen financial circumstances. It could be repairs around your home, a market decline, expenses for your children, rising taxes, more month than money, business pressures, political risk, and the list goes on. Now, let’s get real here. In that past, when financial troubles have hit, were you calm and collected? Or is it more likely you went through that costly event fuming with anger, fear and anxiety, suffering loss of peace and well-being?
I can admit that I’ve been in several financial binds and found myself frustrated and uncertain. For example, in just the past six months, my wife Pam and I have had to deal with a 65 mile per hour windstorm that blew three mature trees down around our house resulting in a royal mess! In fact, one of our neighbor’s trees blew down, smashing into our fence resulting in $5,000 worth of clean up and repairs. In addition, our pool needed servicing after we found that it was leaking 500 gallons of water per day! The repairs were $400, plus the cost of water. Not to mention the cracked diving board that cost $750 to replace, as well as the $300 it cost to replace the old solar cover. Also, the fan in our master bathroom needed to be replaced, costing us another $110.
And that’s not all! The biggest cost hanging over our heads right now is the cost of cleaning up a mess we suspect our beloved grandchildren may have caused. Did one of the little ones put something down the toilet? Only God knows! But what we do know is that our sewer backed up, flooded our basement and ruined the carpet as well as some personal books and belongings. The cost will be over $6,000!
Now understandably it’s easy to be frazzled, frustrated and furious! Not at our grandchildren of course. But with the situation of finding ourselves dolling out unexpected amounts of cash. And I would be lying if I said losing my cool didn’t cross my mind. After all, I am human. However, I also trust God. I know he owns everything and I know that everything happens according to his plan and will. Romans 8:28 in the New American Standard Bible says:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
We’ve taken the necessary steps of calling the insurance company, paying the deductible and bills for the repair, kissing our grandchildren profusely and moving on. But was it frustrating? Absolutely! Did we come unglued? No! We kept our cool, but most importantly we kept our emotions in check.
And that brings me to the crux of this blog post today. Emotions! Today I want to begin to explore the biblical formula for dealing with the emotions that come with the financial pressure points you will inevitably encounter in life. Let’s talk about the Formula for Your Emotions!
CIRCUMSTANCES + EVALUATION (THINKING) + ACTIONS = EMOTIONS
Let’s look at the pieces of the formula and how they relate to one another.
1) Your EMOTIONS are the subjective responses to your evaluation of your financial circumstances or pressure point (i.e. how I might have felt when I first saw the sewage all over our basement carpet).
2) Your CIRCUMSTANCES are NOT what determine your EMOTIONS; it’s your EVALUATION of those circumstances that determine your emotions (i.e. whether I get frazzled and frustrated at the ruined carpet or keep my cool).
3) As you think and EVALUATE your CIRCUMSTANCES, that evaluation will determine your EMOTIONS.
4) As you think and evaluate your financial CIRCUSTANCES, that EVALUATION will determine your ACTIONS.
5) Your EMOTIONS are responses to your EVALUATIONS and ACTIONS.
6) You feel the way you feel because of the way you THINK and ACT.
The key aspect to understand is it is NOT the circumstances that directly triggers your emotions, it’s your evaluation of the circumstances that brings on the myriad of emotions you may feel. In Galatians 5:22 we read that peace, patience, kindness, and self-control are Fruits of the Spirit. But all of that seems to go out the window when a tree falls on your fence or an ocean of sewage floods your basement and ruins your carpet. We inflict emotional pain on ourselves when we walk in the flesh (not trusting God) instead of in the spirit (trusting God) during financial pressure points or crisis.
In the same way that our cars come equipped with warning lights to let us know when there is a problem with the engine, our gracious heavenly Father has created our bodies with the capacity to experience emotional pain, and that pain serves as a “warning light” for our bodies. Emotional pain is a sign of a problem with our heart just as abdominal pain is a sign of appendicitis. Or how squeaking sounds when we stop is a sign of our breaks going bad on our car. In biblical terms, we have “heart trouble” when we are struggling with our thoughts, emotions or desires. And just like with our car breaks, those troubles are exacerbated during crisis.
When it comes to the connection between our finances and our emotions, we should treat our hearts like our cars and commit to regular maintenance, which comes in the form of modifying our daily relationship with God. When we experience fear, anxiety, anger and inner turmoil because of inevitable financial pressure points, perhaps it’s because we ‘ve allowed the monetary loss to become more important to us than God. In our hearts, when we’re trusting God more than our money, believing Him to be our loving provider, we may be better able to weather the financial storms that come from leaks in our pools, as well as sewage floods in our basements.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
-Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)
In summation, when we keep our hearts prepared and can evaluate the circumstances of our financial situations through the lens of trusting that God has allowed the event to happen, along with his promise to provide for us, we can have emotional peace and self-control even when the pressure points are mounting. No excuse me while I take some time to call my grandchildren and tell them how much I love them.
How do you respond emotionally when inevitable financial pressure points occur in your life? Are you willing to implement the “Biblical Formula for Your Emotions,” and evaluate and take the proper actions during your financial pressure with the view that a loving God is in control? Tell me about it in the comments section or find Wisdom for the Wealthy on Facebook and leave a comment there. You can also reach me on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading!