WARNING: This post contains graphic, counter-intuitive information that some may find disturbing. Do not read this unless you are open to conviction and healing.
“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” (Psalm 112:7-8, NIV)
One of the biggest surprises to me through this whole pandemic is a sociological one involving shopping patterns, particularly one item.
Who knew? I’m familiar with “snow day” shopping. In the South, even the mention of the possibility of a flurry of snow sends everyone to the store to buy milk, bread, and eggs. It’s as though folks are planning to make it through the snow crisis on french toast alone. (Which makes me wonder why there’s not also a run on maple syrup? But I digress.)
Now, I’m no sociologist, but I think part of it is due to herd mentality. You know, one person starts buying up toilet paper, then suddenly everyone begins to think about life without toilet paper. Yikes! Not a pretty sight. So then everybody’s buying toilet paper. Then the store runs out of toilet paper, and people, even those with toilet paper, are waiting at the store with fingers crossed for the next shipment of toilet paper. Stores are actually having to ration toilet paper right now. Toilet. Paper.
Who knew that wiping our bum was that important? (Tongue planted firmly in cheek.)
Thus far, I have successfully not gone to the store and bought any toilet paper. Not because I’m a noble, fearless person. Not because I have no need for toilet paper. Not because I’m super-spiritual and believe “God will provide.” Here’s why.
I already have some.
The toilet paper “crisis” to me is a microcosm of a larger problem that we all need to be mindful of, myself included. Hoarding. Whether it’s toilet paper, or medicine, or masks, or money, the temptation in times of crisis is to become very inward, making darn sure we take care of ourselves and our family. But this mindset can actually lend itself to becoming fearful. What else might we run out of? What have I not thought of that we might need later if ____________. (fill in the blank here with whatever scenario you’ve considered.)
But Psalm 112 describes a different type of person in troubled times. A person who has no fear of bad news. A person who is steadfast in uncertain times. A person who’s heart is secure, even fearless. Man, do we need that kind of person in times like these!
Here’s the good news! We can be.
Here’s how. Let me unpack the rest of the Psalm. “Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands…Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Surely he will never be shaken. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” Then verse 9 “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor.”
Who is this person who has no fear of bad news? Who lives fearlessly in fearful times?
The person who is generous.
It’s terribly counter-intuitive, but these are the times when we need to be thinking of how we can be generous! How can we help others who might have it a lot worse than we do right now?
- Low income families.
- Single parents.
- The elderly.
- The sick.
Those are the obvious ones.
But there are others who are terribly vulnerable right now. According to this article by Politico updated yesterday, people who make less than $35,000 a year, in some of the industries listed below, are most at risk to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
- People in the service industry: waitstaff, bartenders, hair stylists, care aids, janitors, drivers, etc.
- People in the retail industry: cashiers, clerks, managers, etc.
- Small business owners/workers, particularly those in restaurant, retail, daycare and a host of others.
- AND those who are most at-risk for getting the coronavirus (also making less than $35,000) including paramedics, nursing assistants, medical assistants, and home health providers.
So let’s flip this thing! Instead of thinking of what we need right now, let’s start thinking of how we can be a blessing to others, how we can be generous to those who are more vulnerable than we are.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m no saint here. The first half of this month, I was pretty “woe is me” about how this whole coronavirus thing was negatively impacting me. With lost revenue from speaking engagements, outdoor adventure cancellations, and a major decline in counseling appointments, I’m down about $5,000 for the month. I was pretty bummed.
But I turned a corner when I started thinking differently! When I started thinking about all that I do have, and being grateful for it. When I started thinking about all of the other folks that don’t have what I have right now and how I could help them. The fact is, I have savings. I have a cushion that most of our low income families don’t have. On top of that, I have access to other resources and opportunities that many people don’t right now.
That change in thinking changed my whole attitude. I’m now seeing this season as a tremendous opportunity for me and other followers of Christ to make a positive difference, to be a light shining in the darkness.
To be generous.
So here’s some practical ways we can help:
Tipping: Give radically generous tips to people who are able to work right now. Their business is still down.
Store Runs: If you have elderly folks, or folks without transportation, or folks who have underlying medical conditions that make them more at-risk to COVID-19, offer to go to the store or pharmacy for them.
Childcare: If you know of moms who have jobs and need to work right now, but don’t have childcare because of school and daycare closings, offer to help watch the kids.
Shop Small Business: Small businesses are getting hit hard right now. Shop online with them. If they’re open for business, choose them over big box suppliers. I’m pretty sure the “Superstores” are gonna make it through this. Some small businesses may not.
Stimulus Checks: I’m already praying about how to use a stimulus check (if I happen to get one) to bless someone else. There’s a ton of people who need it more than I do. (Thank you Roger Martin Jr. for that idea!)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There’s a whole lot more ideas out there, so let’s get creative people! (You might even know of someone who needs toilet paper.)
Jesus put it this way after a long sermon about not worrying, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:32-34, NIV)
Feel free to use the comments below to offer more creative ways we can help others during this season!