How to Love Others in Times of Crisis
I’ve been thinking about this and “social distancing” is a bad term! Not a bad concept from the standpoint of the pandemic and risk. But we should simply call it “physical distancing” and continue to find ways to build good friendships and social relationships…love others! Part of that is honoring the physical distance so as to not put others at risk. Still there are many ways that we can love our neighbors!
First of all, check out this linked article from Prepare/Enrich (of which I’m a certified facilitator for their pre-marriage and marriage inventories and counseling). The author elaborates and gives some great ideas and resources to help you to reconnect in your marriage, with family members and others.
One of the suggestions is to nurture mutual relationships – family members and friends that you don’t see or talk to regularly…this is a great TIME (remember the gift God is giving us) to make this happen. For many this is more than just a call or text…you can Skype or video chat, etc.! Remember, though, to keep God’s Covenant Order priorities with your spouse and immediate family first and foremost!
Another “adjustment” during the crisis that you can make to help in your home is to share duties and chores with your spouse and children to ease burdens and stress! This helps keeps each person occupied and at the same time frees up some time for those “others” for us to reconnect and build relationships with.
Also, be careful with your media time! If you don’t know already, one of the quickest ways to destroy relationships is by having screens (phones, pads, computers and TVs) fill your home and time rather than connecting with family and others. Be careful and disciplined to LIMIT MEDIA so your time is better spent nurturing great relationships!
Now, specifically speaking here are several ways that we can reach out to our neighbors and others and love them in this time of crisis…who knows you just may build or rekindle a good relationship and develop the discipline to keep it going once the crisis has passed. Even more importantly you are pointing others to Christ!
Our principles should not change in order to love and serve others, but our actions must in this time of crisis. Matthew 7:12, known as the Golden Rule lays down the underlying principle we are to act upon…“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Here are some general principles and practical ways to love others during this pandemic…
- Honor the authorities – (Romans 13:1-10) One way to love is to be careful around and avoid contact with those at higher risk…elderly and immunocompromised, by preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Run errands for those at higher risk. Psalm 71:9 says “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” Do this yourself or organize others to help deliver groceries, prescriptions and other needs to those at higher risk.
- Understand the circumstances. Don’t panic. (Philippians 4:6-7) Remember a couple of weeks ago we talked about faith over fear, peace over panic. Walking in faith, hope, love and Truth in Christ goes a long way in encouraging others.
- Be careful to discern and share Truth rather than “fake news.” (Psalm 6:16, 19) Truth is always helpful. Disinformation or inflammatory info contributes to the panic. If you’re not sure then just continue to serve and stay quiet rather than take the risk of spreading lies and fear. God doesn’t take kindly to any kind of lies.
- Support those working in healthcare however you can. (Matthew 7:12) This is a difficult time for all of us but especially for those in the healthcare field. Help with meals or with children, again, as you can and not bucking the guidelines for good health so as not to potentially spread the virus.
- Support businesses and those hit hard financially in this difficult time. (Matthew 7:12) Businesses are among the hardest hit by this crisis, especially local businesses. Your hair stylist or barber, pet care folks, etc., who have no means of income at this time. Order online and ship gift or something needed to them, order delivery/takeout; buy gift cards to help out with meals or other things they may need.
- Pray. Philippians 4:4-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Above all else pray! Remember this is one of the ways you can use your TIME that God is gifting to you as discussed in previous posts. Pray for the health of anyone you know fighting coronavirus. Pray for needs to be met and then act on that to make it happen as you can. Pray for everyone to be filled with faith and hope in this dark time and be the one that shines the light of Christ so they can see the Source of that faith and hope.
Finally, don’t panic and miss out on the small gatherings (with physical distancing and proper health practices) where we can help encourage one another…“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
In another article, Dr. Glenn Sunshine (not making that name up, check it out), which is why just on the name alone I had to mention it. He offers a few suggestions that we can do daily: “picking up groceries for shut-in neighbors, ensuring they have vital medications, and using technology to encourage and comfort Christians in ways that in times past could only happen in person.” Which is what we’re doing right now!
A Time of Self-Assessment
One final thing to wrap up these last few weeks as we’ve dealt with the pandemic and related real and imaginary crisis…take a look in the mirror. So many things that we’ve become accustomed to and relied on for our leisure, entertainment and even pleasure…sports, travel, socializing, etc., you might even say as so many “idols”… have been shut down. This calls for re-assessment And the first thing I believe The Lord is calling us to is self-assessment.
What are you turning to for comfort? For peace? While self-assessment may bring solace to some, I know for many, conviction has been the response. And that’s not a bad thing. Conviction brings both great pain and great delight. The pain comes as we realize that God has not been our first priority. The vices and idols we choose, as they are so available to us, become glaringly obvious when given time to think about what we are chasing after to satisfy the longings of our hearts.
However, for Christ followers (and for those we can encourage and impact to consider Him as Savior and Lord), our pain is turned to laughter and joy as we remember that Christ has redeemed all that we struggle with (Ephesians 1:7). In doing so, we must also assess and understand that we are called to turn from those idols and vices to His Truth by His grace and love!
I pray that this conviction dominates the hearts of every man and woman so that Christ is exalted and His glory is on full display as He alone, in all the world, can truly satisfy. As I mentioned in previous posts, I pray that this crisis and our conviction and self-assessment will bring about humility and joyful repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10) for all!
God is at work! How will we respond?
I close with this…let’s pray that everyone will come to the understanding and respond to these two powerful quotes in line with God’s Truth. C.S. Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity”: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” St. Augustine said it this way, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
What a great gift God is giving us to find Him, others and ourselves in His Love! Don’t waste it.
Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – We should always be looking for ways to serve and love others, as we would want them to do to us. That’s not too difficult when things are going well. However, in times of crisis, what a great opportunity to live this out and shine the light of Christ!
Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) – 1) Connect with and encourage one person today that you have not connected with in a long while; 2) Help someone in need today while honoring and obeying the guidelines for the pandemic; 3) Assess where you are personally as to what is most important in your life.