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Ask Chuck: Climbing out of a financial dark hole

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

I am overwhelmed with financial challenges. I constantly feel defeated and discouraged to the point of giving up. I had no idea that financial challenges could lead to such despair. How do I climb out of this dark hole I am in?

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Financial Dark Hole


Dear Financial Dark Hole,

I am sorry for your pain. Through the years, Crown has served many who have come out of the same place you are in right now. There is definitely hope! It will take a concentrated effort to renew your mind and a plan to fix your financial problems. Your circumstance reminds me that the task of eating an elephant must be done one bite at a time. Let’s lay out those bite-sized steps to help you conquer this problem.

Change your mindset

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5–6, emphasis mine)

Changing what we think about money impacts our behavior. It requires dedicated training.

Think about athletes. They train their bodies for competition with grueling workouts. They make sacrifices and prioritize this area of their lives. A ballet company or orchestra trains for a performance or event. Believers are called to train their minds in order to respond with wisdom and discernment. Godly stewardship requires mental prowess achieved by training. Repeated practice becomes second nature, requiring little conscious effort.

We bear fruit when we abide in Christ. This happens when we devote time to regular worship and fellowship with other believers, prayer, and the reading of His Word. It is our living source of truth, wisdom, and understanding. When we meditate on it, memorize it, and pray it, we can recognize error and flee temptation. When we set our “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2), we can consciously shut out the negative influences of the world that distract us from walking and abiding with Christ.

Scripture to strengthen the mind

  • Take every thought captive — “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ …” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV).
  • Renew your mind — “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 ESV).
  • Protect the mind from TV, social media, games, magazines, books, music, etc — “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23 ESV). The “heart” includes the mind and what proceeds from one’s thoughts.
  • Pray fervently — “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 ESV).
  • Be positive — “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).
  • Cling to hope — “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …” (Romans 5:2–4 ESV).

Practical advice

It is important to set financial goals and implement a plan of action. These might include debt payoff dates, funding an emergency account, funding a retirement account, and saving for major purchases, like a car, appliance, vacation, home, or remodel. It could include saving for adoption, college, going on the mission field, or starting a business.

  • Remember how God has provided in the past.
  • Take things one day at a time.
  • Post your goals and review them daily.
  • Act and the emotions will follow.
  • Don’t let failure disappoint; pick yourself up and keep going.
  • Replace the lies of the devil and unhealthy thoughts with truth and goodness.

Progress in spite of the pain

I recently read Saved: A War Reporter’s Mission to Make It Home by Benjamin Hall. He is the Fox journalist who survived a 2022 bombing near Kyiv, Ukraine. His story is incredible in numerous ways, but one thing I found remarkable was his strength of mind. Despite the horrible trauma, intense pain, and emotional challenges, his mental fortitude helped him survive.

“Without any real painkillers available, all I could do was turn the pain into a mind game. I had to tell myself—convince myself—that the pain didn’t matter. I had to teach my body to ignore the pain and teach my mind to block it out. I had to, in essence, put the pain away. The only way to do that was to absolutely believe there was something more important than the pain that needed my attention, and that thing was my survival ... I reached past the level of pain and found another level I never knew was there ... I marshaled every bit of my focus and put it on the only thing that mattered; to survive, to escape, to get back ...”

His book helped me reset my perspective on pain. I hope you will consider reading it too. Persevering through pain can help you fight despair and find hope. The Lord will strengthen you and never leave you.

Christian Credit Counselors is a trusted source of support in assisting people with getting on the road to financial freedom. Reach out to them today; they may be of great benefit to you.

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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