Debt, Your Health, and God’s Mercy
A record financial crisis has gripped the global community with a chilling iron fist like a stubborn pandemic. Glaring symptoms of economic recession are all around us. For instance homes are being lost to foreclosure and retrenchments are at an all-time high in almost every sector of the economy. Some banks are teetering on the precipice of collapse. Retirement portfolios are dwindling at an alarming rate and frozen credit markets are commonplace. Sadly, the effects of this financial downturn are so far-reaching that sometimes we are oblivious of them. A subtle form of panic has settled on the general public characterized by health problems such as chronic headaches, increased blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and ulcers. Protracted stressful health problems such as these exert a heavy toll on mental, emotional and physical well-being. For individuals in low income socioeconomic strata this further compounds their difficulties. As household assets began to depreciate in 2008 most people have been facing financial peril after having worked so hard to obtain them. Unemployment has continued to hover around 10% and the tension has risen as unemployment benefits have become a political and economic bone of contention. The future suddenly seems bleak and broodingly threatening. Individual debt, not to mention national debt, has soared almost uncontrollably. Research indicates that people dealing with high debt tend to report having health problems. An analysis of the 2008 results of a poll reported by the Associated Press in an article titled Debt Stress Causing Health Problems, Poll Finds, revealed that about 16 million people in the United States were “suffering terribly due to their debts and their health is likely to be negatively impacted.” Among the people who reported having high debt 27% were experiencing problems with their digestive systems or ulcers. Another 29% had severe anxiety. About 44% had migraine headaches and 6% reported having heart attacks. Another 51% reported muscle tension and pain in their lower back. As the economy struggles people are taking on more debt just to get by which only exacerbates their poor health profile. These bleak statistics can instill a sense of trepidation and apprehension in any heart.
The Bible does not give any precise command against debt although it warns that debt makes the borrower a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). But the mercy of God transcends any negative situation we might ever face, whether it be debt or anything else. When we find ourselves in a difficult condition we should remember the inspired counsel from the apostle Paul: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4: 6-7). God can calm our hearts in the midst of the storm. It is the only way we can hear His instructions about how to get out of it.