It’s obvious we are living in an unprecedented time. Collectively, we global citizens, are facing something in COVID-19 I don’t think any of us could have ever imagined we would face in our lifetime. We’re all trying to balance so many things at once: the pressures of daily life, financial uncertainty, health worries, job loss or job insecurity, homeschooling children, and so much more. And that’s hardly scratching the surface.
Obviously, I’m not trying to sit here and regurgitate what you already know. Life is hard right now.
I’ve heard a lot of conversations over the past seven weeks that include questions like: “Why would this happen?” “Why is God allowing the Coronavirus to come upon the earth?” “Is God judging the world?” “If God is such a good God, why do bad things happen?”
I’m not here to speak for God or even offer theological insights into suffering, trials, tribulations, and hard times (that’s another article for another day), but I can offer a little bit of perspective and a little bit of hope.
Fact: we can’t control everything going on around us. We can’t. It’s just not within our sphere of influence or control. That fact can feel overwhelming if we stay focused on it for too long. So, instead, my suggestion is to focus on a different fact: we CAN control what we focus on. We CAN control what we give our attention to.
Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (emphasis mine).
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Focus our attention on His goodness… no matter what.
When I think about seeking God first and seeing His righteousness, I can’t help but think about what Jesus would want me to focus on during a time like a global pandemic. There’s so much happening around us… WHAT are we to focus on? When our brains feel overwhelmed and frazzled, what are we to do?
Personally, I think it’s right about now that we go back to basics. The foundational truths of our faith.
In Mark 12 when one of the teachers of the law approached Jesus and asked Him which commandment was the most important, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31.
It’s easy during difficult times to focus solely on our own problems, our own struggles, and our own selves. But for me, I have found that the thing that has been the most impactful during the most trying times is to focus on two things: 1. Loving God and 2. Loving others. Period.
And while we don’t have to socially distance ourselves from our heavenly Father, it’s a little bit more challenging right now to love our neighbors when we have to stay at least 6-feet apart from them.
So, I’ve challenged myself and brought my family along with me during this time. We have tried to be creative and find various ways in which we can really, truly, love our neighbors during COVID-19 (while also staying safe and still maintaining social distancing!)
I pray these ideas inspire you to love God and others at a time when it could be really easy not to.
12 ways to love your neighbor during COVID-19.
- If you have the ability to sew, make masks for those who need them. A dear friend of mine has the gift of sewing and has used her time over the past month to make over 500 masks for local first responders, hospital workers, and essential employees.
- Coordinate a neighborhood “social distancing” gathering. In our neighborhood, we’ve had nights where we just bring out a chair at the end of our driveway and laugh and talk with each other. It’s a great way to connect with neighbors while still staying safe!
- Become a pen pal for a grand-friend. My kids and I have been writing letters of encouragement to people who are in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc. just trying to brighten their day!
- Send a random postcard or some snail mail to a friend who you know could use a pick-me-up. I know that I love being on the receiving end of snail mail… sending a letter or note to someone telling them why you are grateful for them could be just the message they need to hear at that moment!
- Call and check in on friends or family members you haven’t spoken to in a while. I’ll be honest, I’m not great at talking on the phone… but checking in on friends and family right now has been something I’ve really looked forward to. Redeeming technology can really help bring relationships closer together even when we’re social distancing.
- Contact your local food bank or food distribution center to find out what immediate needs they have.
- Reach out to your local church and find out if there is a family (or two) that could use an extra blessing or if they have any immediate needs.
- Offer to go grocery shopping or pickup groceries for a neighbor who is elderly, disabled, immunocompromised, a single parent, out of work, etc.
- Send a gift card to a local restaurant or restaurant delivery service to someone you know could use a blessing of a meal. This is really a double blessing because not only are you supporting a local business that could be hurting right now, but you’re also blessing a family!
- Take some sidewalk chalk and walk around your neighborhood and write encouraging verses of scripture, quotes, etc. to encourage others as they go about their day!
- Offer to cut your neighbor’s grass or do any yard work that might need to be done.
- Sponsor a child in poverty. The health systems of even the highest-income nations (like our own) have been pushed to the limits by this pandemic. And lower-income nations are far less equipped to deal with the consequences. There has never been a better time to connect with a child through a sponsorship program – I personally sponsor a child with Compassion International and love what they’re doing to respond to this deep need in developing countries.
There you have it! Twelve ways to love your neighbor during COVID-19! In what ways have you been trying to love God and love others during this unprecedented time? There is no better time to show our identity in Christ with those who need it most.