Debt can rob us of joy and make us anxious about our financial futures. Really, it doesn’t matter how much money we have or don’t have, we can allow emotional anxiety and its driver – fear – to overcome us. Invasive thoughts, nightmares, physical stress, and spiritual insecurity come from fear and anxiety. Sometimes those anxious symptoms are voluntary – we choose to dwell on them. Sometimes anxiety is involuntary – our survival needs are threatened and we physically and mentally respond with our instincts. In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul tells them not to be anxious in either situation, voluntary or involuntary.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)
How can we live our lives – including our finances – without any anxiety?
How can that be? How can we live our lives – including finances – without any anxiety? Notice Paul’s three-fold solution does not involve how much money we have or don’t have.
Prayer – We pray to God our Father through our relationship with Jesus Christ and guided by His Holy Spirit. This includes confession, worship and praise. They help us to have an eternal heavenly perspective instead of a temporary, worldly perspective. Stated simply, we get our hearts right with God.
Pleading – We ask God our Father for His solution to our anxiety. We may have something specific in mind, or we may not have any solutions. There is a humility to this word “pleading.” We surrender and admit we don’t have the solution. Other translations for “pleading” are “petition” or “supplication.” Those are big words for “ask emotionally.” Let the anxiety out on God. He can take it!
Thanksgiving – We thank God for His solution, the patience to wait for it, the persistence to look for it, and the certainty of it. Notice we are thanking God for something that hasn’t happened yet! That’s what faith is all about.
What is the immediate result of prayer, pleading and thanksgiving? It’s receiving the peace of God that doesn’t make sense. It is not financial peace; this kind of peace is way beyond that. This is peace that can only come from God and His Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Advocate. This peace guards our hearts (emotions) and minds (thoughts) with the power of Christ behind it.
How did Paul come to this conclusion? He wrote this from prison! Don’t you think he was anxious about becoming a martyr? At any time, Paul had to be ready to die. But he had peace and that gave him hope.
Turning financial anxiety into hope
Take your financial anxiety about your debt, your empty savings account, your puny retirement fund, your money arguments with your spouse, and any other financial issues, and offer it all to God. You may even be in a survival situation. Ask God to fulfill His promise to give you peace beyond understanding. He loves you more than the birds and He will take care of all of your needs (see Matthew 6:25-34) both your finances and your internal peace. It may not come all at once, the anxiety may return again and again, but God never moves.
Let’s say you make a great debt repayment plan and actually succeed in eliminating your debt. But you may be anxious, worried and stressed the whole time, and in the end never experience God’s peace. On the flip side, God’s peace does not give you an excuse to ignore your financial debt situation and not work the plan, thinking God will send you a miracle. Now immediate miracles can happen, but the fruit of hard work over years is a miracle too. God’s peace gives you the confidence and discipline to complete your debt elimination plan with joy in the journey and celebration in the success. You’ll be able to praise God through it and at the end of it.
Don’t live anxiously! Grab God’s peace and hold onto hope. The Lord is near.