Preparing for a Crisis

Greece was forced into a short-term bankruptcy when they failed to make timely payments against loans they received from the European Union. China’s economy is in turmoil because the shares on the Shanghai Composite Index are down about 30% and the government spending on infrastructure is now grinding to a halt as many buildings are sitting empty because there is no one to purchase the offices or condominiums.

Puerto Rico has defaulted on $76 Billion in loans because they made only a fractional payment (about 1%) when a significantly larger payment ($58 million) was due.

Combine all of this with the fact that the United States now has $17 Trillion in debt, which is growing by about 6% per year (almost 4X the rate of inflation) and there might be some reason for concern.

Will these large financial issues in the world affect us?  Only God knows.

A more immediate concern may be the personal crises that are looming. We have all faced them—job loss, business reversal, illness, death of a family member, military deployment of the breadwinner. These are all personal crises that shake our private world and turn everything upside down.

Think about some crises in the Bible:

  • Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery

  • In a few hours, Job lost everything—his children, wife, all of his financial resources, even his health

  • Moses was caught between the Red Sea and the most powerful army in the world

  • Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den

  • Paul was beaten, stoned and left for dead

  • Mary was a pregnant unwed teenager

It would have been easy for all of these people to feel abandoned by God, yet in each case, God used their crisis for good.

When we face a crisis, remember that God loves us deeply and in any situation he is with us each and every step of the way. John 15:9 tells us just how much God loves us:  “As the father has loved me, so I have loved you.” It is important to remember the love God has for us, as it is easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed in a crisis. Yet, we can use difficulties as opportunities to grow closer to God and learn things we just could not learn any other way.

There are several things we can do to prepare for a crisis. The first is to get your financial house in order.  So many times, there is a financial impact when a crisis hits—usually through decreased income or increased expenses. If you have your finances in good order, the crisis can be a little less stressful. (The best way to get your financial house is order is to take the Compass Bible Study Navigating Your Finances God’s Way.)

Most times people will face the financial challenges in a crisis by using credit cards to maintain their standard of living. This is very dangerous because debt payments plus interest can put a hefty strain on already stretched financial obligations. Using debt will make the situation worse. We have seen many people in this situation and it just drags them down faster and faster.

One of the things that Compass stresses is to have an emergency fund. First starting with $1000, then as you are able to whittle down your credit card debt, increase your emergency fund to 3 months income. Ultimately you will want to have 6 to 12 months income in your emergency fund. The emergency fund will help you survive a crisis situation.

Another way to prepare for a crisis is to develop a crisis budget.  Analyze your current budget and cut your expenses by a percentage—like 40 or 50 percent.  Or, think about the most likely crisis you will face and cut your budget to meet the changing circumstances. For example if you or your spouse were to lose your job, how would your spending need to change?

Having the discussion before the crisis makes it easier to make objective decisions, not decisions based on emotion.  It also helps you have a sense of peace that you have a plan. One reason people don’t do this is because they really do not understand how much they are currently spending so they cannot anticipate an adjustment.

The important thing is to know how much you spend on a monthly basis— that is the only way you can possibly be prepared to change—then implement the crisis budget as soon as you anticipate the problem happening. For example, in most cases if there are lay offs at work, you can see them coming maybe weeks or even months in advance so as soon as you discover that a layoff may impact you, implement the crisis budget.

The worst thing that is going to happen is you’ll save some money if the crisis never occurs. The best thing that will happen is that you will survive the crisis with minimum financial damage.

It also helps to have support through the crisis and not try to get through it alone. If you seek advice from Godly people who have been in the same or similar circumstances, they can be a great source of blessing and encouragement to you. You can learn from their experiences, and they can tell you about resources they have used and even mistakes they made that you can avoid.

In a crisis it’s easy to get several steps past where you are, and worry about what’s next.  The important thing is to focus on the present and do not worry about the future.  One day at a time—sometimes one hour at a time is all you need to handle. Matthew 6:34 tells us: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” 

In a stressful situation when we are praying for help, we expect God to resolve things in our way, in our time, exactly the way we want it to be resolved. This just sets us up for disappointment and frustration, as God does not work according to our demands. It is important for us to trust God and believe in his divine providence without giving him deadlines or directions.

It is typical for us to get angry in a crisis.  You can be angry with the people who caused whatever is going on—if you get laid off, it is easy to be angry at your boss. It’s also easy to have a general sense of anger at the situation and lash out at those closest to you, whether they had anything to do with your situation or not. But anger never solves anything and the Bible tells us to forgive “not seven times, but seventy times seven.”  Matthew 18:22

Sometimes a crisis is a blessing in disguise. It can help us grow closer to God, it can forge a stronger marriage, we can meet new friends through new circumstances or we can find a new path in life.

In a crisis, meditate on this verse from Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.  When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.” 

God is always with us even when it’s hard for us to recognize it.

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