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Ask Chuck: How do we avoid bankruptcy?

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

My wife and I are reaching out for some financial advice. After I lost some of my leg (due to diabetes), I have struggled with depression and holding down a job. What does Crown offer someone like me?

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Depressed and Near Bankruptcy

Unsplash/ Just Jack
Unsplash/ Just Jack

Dear Depressed and Near Bankruptcy,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak into your life. I know that the Lord (through Crown) can help you overcome this hard time in your life. I want to start with reframing your perspective on the loss of your limb.

Focus on what you can do

I love to watch the Little League World Series. I grew up playing baseball and coached my boys when they were young. This year, 12-year-old Josiah Porter played for Nolensville, Tennessee. He played both outfield and pitcher and hit .300 through four Southeast Region Tournament games. Things got serious when he hit a grand slam that advanced the team to Williamsport to play against Hawaii.

You know what’s really incredible about this? He’s legally blind in one eye. When he was six, he walked into a sharp object that cut his eyeball. He had stitches and numerous surgeries but refused to let it hold him back.

Josiah’s dad, Brandon, said, “God had a big thing to do with all of this — keeping our focus on Jesus walking on the water, like Peter walking on the water in the Bible, and being positive … Instead of focusing on the storm, the bad things, what he can’t do, he focuses on what he can do.”

“Josiah doesn’t let this thing define him. He doesn’t like to talk about it because that’s not how he looks at life. It has been amazing. He’s a great young man. He loves God, and he’s sensitive to the problems of other people. He’s in tune when he sees people are hurting or sad. He’s that kind of kid.”

Trust God with our limitations

We all have some form of limitations; we simply must not allow them to define us. Nick Vujicic is a world-renowned speaker, New York Times best-selling author, coach, and entrepreneur. He was born in Australia without arms or legs. For years, he struggled trying to understand why he was born that way. Then this passage spoke to him:

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:1–3 ESV).

Today, he relies on this truth:  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV).

Stewards of our suffering

Adversity and affliction are God’s ways of shaping us, building our character, and drawing us into full reliance on Him. Our pain should make us more aware of God’s omnipresence and our helpless dependence on the Lord.

What the world calls “adversity” can be your opportunity. Trust Him, rely on Him, and renew your mind on His Word:

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:9–10 ESV).

Make a plan

When the fog of depression grips us, we often feel unmotivated, paralyzed, and unable to deal with the challenges before us. As you begin to rethink how God can use the adversity that you have faced, you and your wife must also take action. 

I want you both to sit down in a quiet, peaceful place together and be determined to work this out. The best way to do that is to make a plan to avoid bankruptcy and stabilize your finances. Taking action will help you overcome your depression and strengthen your finances for the future.

Here are the steps you need to take and ways that Crown can assist you:

  1. Contact your creditors and let them know you intend to pay your debts. Ask for help or ask a reputable agency like Christian Credit Counselors to guide you.
  2. Download our free budgeting tool.
  3. Resolve to save a minimum of $1,000 for emergencies.
  4. Begin giving as your first priority.
  5. Use the envelope system for managing your cash, or download a free app.
  6. Contact a Crown Budget Coach for help and encouragement.
  7. Set a goal to pay back your creditors. Do not create any new consumer debt.
  8. Continue saving until you have 3–6 months of your income set aside for the future.
  9. Follow the steps outlined in the Crown Money Map.

As you follow these steps, keep trusting the Lord and persevering through any setbacks. We are pleased to be here and help as you begin the exciting process of stewarding not only your suffering but also the path out of financial pain.

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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