Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times

thumb903241500061559My dad calls it a flesh break.  I call it the tirades of a crazy man.  The Lord calls it sin.  I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the string of expletives coming out of my mouth.  Even though I whispered my displeasure toward the Lord, I think my heart screamed inside.  And there is no doubt that He heard me to my chagrin.  It has been a long time since I had been that upset.  Before I became a believer I had a pretty foul mouth but that was one of the things that I really hadn’t struggled with afterward.  That is till the other night when I hit the wall: the financial stress wall.  The Scripture says that anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down. Said another way anxiety in the heart of man wears him out.  Just like a marathoner hits the physical wall, a person who is dealing with ongoing financial struggles hit the emotional wall.  Growing up in a chronically poor family, I saw it first hand with my mom who must have had the patience of Job.  But, ever so often she would lose it.  Not like I did but she would have to collect herself and work through her emotions.  Managing our emotions in the face of financial adversity is a key to managing yourself.  But how do you do that?

Pray for peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

The passage listed above is one of my life verses related to our topic today.  The peace of mind that I long for is found through prayer.  One of my favorite experiences with this verse occurred in another late night vigil with the Lord (hmmm there seems to be a pattern forming here).  I can’t remember what I was upset about but I remember specifically complaining to the Lord about my lack of peace.  He brought to my mind quickly this familiar passage along with some questions.  Tim, are you praying about it?  Have you presented your request to Me or are you just mulling it over and over in your mind?  Are you thankful for the situation?  I love the contrast of anxiety and peace and to be honest this Biblical framework has helped me many a time to move to a place of God’s overarching peace that surpasses my understanding even when my circumstances haven’t changed a bit.

Keep in step with the Spirit

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Galatians 5:19-25

It’s fun to watch my son connect with some of the TV shows of my childhood via Netflix.  One of the most recent is Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.  I love the image of the opening introduction where Gomer, who is a terrible marine can’t quite keep in step with the platoon.  His sergeant is running alongside pleading with him to get in step.  What a great image as to what Paul is say in the passage above.  We need to get in step with the Holy Spirit and when we do our lives exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.  Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.   My flesh break the other night exhibited none of those.  As believers, the Holy Spirit of God lives in our hearts and will guide us if we will yield our emotions to Him.

Look to the Character of God

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

If God is for us then who can be against us- what a great phrase.  Do we believe that God is interested in our financial plight?  You bet your boots He is.  His benevolent kindness towards us is unmistakable.  He takes cares of the birds of the air and the grass of the field and yet we are of much more value than they are.  It is true that He allows us at times to sit under the pressure of financial stress but that doesn’t mean that He is unconcerned.   The reality is that He is concerned with much more than just our financial ease.  He is concerned that we rightly relate to Him and one of His favorite tools is money pressure.  With the pressure of money problems, we are forced to look to our provider and trust Him to take care of us

Getting back to the other night lest you think I am a heathen.  As soon as the words left my mouth the Lord convicted me of my sin.  I am so glad that He a forgiving Father who understands my weakness.  I am so glad that He understands that there will be times where I will lose it and provides a way for me to confess my sin of anxiety and fearfulness and then gently guides me to a place of emotional wholeness.

Tim Howington is Executive Vice President for Freedom 5:one and is one of our Financial Life Coaches.  He lives with his wife Terri and son Josh in Rogers Arkansas.

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