It could be said that we’re living in the Age of Fear when it comes to finances—it’s been a human lifetime since we’ve had such an intense combination of negatives occurring at the same time. With the state of the economy—a stagnant job market, declining house values, volatile financial markets and the daily boatload of bad news from the media—it seems as if there’s plenty to worry about. But there is a silver lining to financial fears. Generally speaking, we have more control over our finances then we do over the most severe problems we can face when it comes to health, family crisis, legal entanglements and certainly natural disasters. To a large degree, we can prepare for and mitigate financial problems far more than we can in other areas of life. Fear and the Christian “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”—2 Timothy 1:7 If you’re a Christian you’re probably familiar with this verse. There are dozens of Bible verses dealing with fear and how the believer should react to it. The verses are mostly a comfort, often containing the words “fear not ”—as the believer is to adopt a spirit of peace even in the face of threatening circumstances. But is that how we really feel? Do we banish fear from our lives the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? Somehow I doubt it, and I have to confess that it isn’t always how I react. The human side of my character is very much intact when it comes to fear! I’d be willing to bet that’s the case for most believers. Some people are more disposed toward fear than others, perhaps because of genetics, upbringing, personal experience, or a bit of all three. But if you’re feeling a bit guilty over this, don’t. God knows that we have fears, and here’s how we can tell… According to Answers.com the word “fear” appears in the Bible 365 times, and according to Word Nuggets , “fear not”, “do not fear” and “do not be afraid” appear a combined total of 107 times (NASB version). Why does God see fit to repeat this phrase over and over in Scripture? Because He knows we fear! Jesus assured his disciples not to fear again and again—and they had fears even though they walked with him every day! So what about us? Here’s a fact: we fear because life gives us plenty of reasons to. Even in one of the most comforting verses in the Bible, Jesus gives us ample reason to believe this to be true: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”—John 16:33 (Emphasis added.) Do you see the bolded portion of that verse? OUCH!!! Our troubles will NOT be removed from us! That’s the part we fear, and we fear it because it has the very real potential to hurt us. Constructive Responses to Fear One of the areas we have control over—especially when it comes to finances—is our response to fear. That response can either be destructive, keeping us locked in our problems, or it can be constructive. That part is up to us. When we focus on our fears at least five negatives kick in: we procrastinate—“I don’t want to face it right now” we retreat—“I can’t take it” we doubt ourselves—“I can’t do it” we doubt others—“I’m in this all alone” we doubt God—“He’s abandoned me” Fear is not a way forward. We move toward what ever we focus on, and if we focus on our fears, we’ll move in that direction—if fear is what we set our sights on, then it will determine where we’re headed. We can never camp out in fear! What can we do if we want to turn fear from an obstacle into a motivator? Begin with—and stay in—prayer. When we worry, when we begin to fear, it’s time to get down on our knees. Scripture gives strong reassurance on this: “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 Seek the company and counsel of others. We often like to think that our problems are unique to us, or that our fears make us appear weak in the eyes of others we trust. But rest assured, there is no problem we face, no fear we harbor, that others have not or are not facing as well. Just talking about your fears to others can give you a perspective on them that can make them less scary. Set up an action plan. Often the source of our fears is the absence of a way to deal with them. Setting up an action plan can go a long way toward giving us the confidence we need to overcome our fears. Let’s consider a few typical financial fears and action plans that—along with prayer and the counsel of others—can help put the deepest concerns behind us… Fear: I’ll lose my job and won’t be able to find another one. Action plan: Work to be the best employee in your department or company Take on additional responsibilities that will make you indispensable Take courses that can train you for a career in a different field Take a part-time job in a different field—if you do lose your job, you’ll already have some experience in a new one Start a side business that you can eventually grow into a full-time venture Fear: I won’t have enough money to retire on. Action plan: Save as much money as you can Begin now to lower your basic cost of living Pay down and payoff your debts—less debt = more cash flow Begin building a business you can run in retirement Consider a move to an area where the cost of living is lower Fear: I have more debt than I can possibly repay. Action plan: Stop using credit right now Make the minimum payments—if you stop adding new debt, the old ones will gradually disappear even if you do nothing more Negotiate lower balances, or have a qualified person or organization do it for you Take a second job and build savings that will provide you with some options Move to a cheaper home, take in a boarder or sell a car with a large payment on it If you’ve exhausted all other options, consider bankruptcy—it’s there for a reason Prayer, plus counsel, plus a workable action plan can minimize or even eliminate any financial fears you have. You’re doing all that you can, and trusting the outcome to a loving God. You’re creating forward motion and as you do, your options will increase and so will your confidence. The fear you once had will turn out to be the force that moves you in a positive direction. How do you cope with financial fears in your life? Meet us in the comments! Image by Sergey Mironov / Shutterstock Related Articles: How To Overcome Fear When Investing 4 Steps to Get Your Finances Under Control Financial Difficulties? Finding Peace in the Storm Surviving Financial Meltdown | Review Establishing Confidence in Your Finances Embrace the Struggle Tips to Get Out of Christmas Debt With backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry, Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of OutOfYourRut.com , a website about careers, business ideas, money and more. A committed Christian, he lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids. The articles on this site are for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as financial advice. Please contact a financial professional for specific advice regarding your situation. Also, many of the CPF articles help us pay the bills by using affiliate relationships with Amazon, Google, eBay and others. Find out more here .
Does Fear Control Your Finances?