My favorite passage of Scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “A Time for Everything.” This Old Testament poem reminds us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (ESV). What better time to embrace that message than now as the world adapts to changes brought about by the global pandemic called COVID-19. Undoubtedly each of us was affected in some manner, and many of us experienced financial challenges due to business closures and job layoffs. As we find ourselves in “a time to build up” (Ecclesiastes 3:3), let us recall a few promises of God.
- God does not leave us—Deuteronomy 31:6.
- God is our refuge and strength, our help in trouble—Psalm 46.
- God supplies all our needs—Philippians 4:19.
- God knows we need nourishment and clothing—Matthew 6:31-33.
Pray. The first thing to do in this season of rebuilding is to pray. Thank God for all the blessings He has already provided in the past, and thank Him for the blessings He will provide in the future. Then, humbly submit your petitions to God (Philippians 4:6). It is OK to cast your cares on Him (I Peter 5:7).
Income. If your income was downsized during the pandemic, face the facts and calculate what your income is now. Then, consider ways to recover some income during this season. You may need to apply for unemployment benefits. You may need to draw down some of your cash savings. You may need to apply for employment in an industry still functioning during the pandemic. Even if your income is lower than it was, some income is better than no income. I do not recommend taking out a loan to recover your income. If at all possible, please do not draw down from the equity in your home or your investment accounts. That will make financial recovery more difficult in the future.
The Basics. The next thing to do as you rebuild is to ensure the basics—food, shelter, clothing—are provided for you and your family. Financial personality Dave Ramsey is famous for a concept called the “four walls.” When he speaks with someone who is in a tight financial spot, he tells them the only priority is the “four walls” —what he defines as food, utilities, shelter, and transportation.* As you consider financial changes that need made during this season of transition, always consider the “four walls” first. Everything else—including debt payments—can wait if necessary. Provide for your family first; the debt collectors can wait.
Everything else. Now that you have calculated your income and determined the costs of your “four walls,” you can start to consider everything else that may need adjusted during this time. If you have debt, contact the lenders and ask for options. The financial industry responded strongly during the pandemic trying to assist their customers facing hardships. If you need help, reach out and ask. If you depleted or are depleting your cash savings, double-check that you are only paying for the basics. You may need to eliminate some expenses from your budget to preserve your cash savings for as long as possible.
Last, take heart and keep taking action. Do the next right thing. I know that may be easier for me to say than for you to hear, but I do believe that if we continue to act and take the next right step, God will step in—in only the way that He can—to help us recover. We do not know what tomorrow will bring (Proverbs 27:1; James 4:14), yet we know who holds tomorrow (Revelation 1:8).
Ashley Chancellor serves as the executive assistant to the secretary of Global Missions at UPCI World Headquarters. She resides in Hazelwood, Missouri, with her husband, Daylen, and three dogs, Jack, Dooley, and Bentley.