A crisis can bring out the best in people, or it can bring out the worst. We’ve all seen examples of the worst. A friend of mine, Steve, was in an international airport trying to get home on the very day the borders were closed in Europe from COVID-19. He saw a lot of the worst.
Wall to wall people jockeying for position. Customers screaming at the top of their lungs. People cutting in line, trampling those who were too slow, weak, or encumbered to keep up.
Steve saw a military mom traveling by herself with a kid strapped to her back and four other young ones in tow. “Why is everybody cutting in front of me?” she cried as desperation gave way to despair. But no one heard her or cared.
My friend thought, “I can’t fix the rest of this mess, but maybe I can help her.” So, he did.
A foot taller than everyone else around, Steve used his booming, baritone voice to get their attention. “Hey everybody—this woman has five children and she is going to miss this flight if we don’t help her out. Could everyone please step aside and let her through?”
There was a long, awkward pause. Nobody moved.
“PLEASE!” he insisted.
Slowly, the wave of people parted, and the young family finally inched forward. But there was one hold out—a short man in a medical mask who had cut in front of everyone wouldn’t budge.
“Come on, man…” Steve urged. “It’ll be good for your soul.”
Reluctantly, but with a slight grin forming underneath his face mask, the man moved to the side, and the woman walked to the front of the line with all of her kids trailing behind. Spontaneous applause abrupted from this flash of kindness in a sea of selfish humanity. The mother made it on a flight that she otherwise would have missed. With tears welling in her eyes, she mouthed “thank you” to my friend.
We won’t be able to fix all the messes that this crisis has created in the world, but we can help fix someone’s mess. Maybe several someones. That may seem hard to do, especially when physical contact isn’t possible, but there are ways.
Here are seven ways we can bless others in a time when self-preservation rules the day:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Aleksandra Nigmatulina
1. Ask More
A recent poll shows that more than one in four people aged 50 to 80 have “social contact once a week, or less, with family members they don’t live with, or with friends and neighbors.” That reality is heartbreaking, and social distancing measures have eliminated the only human contact that many of these isolated individuals have.
Who needs you to dig deeper to see how they really are? Who is alone and needs someone to carry them through this solitary time? Who has a need?
Ask yourself these questions. Make a list of people who would benefit just from hearing your voice, and set reminders to call or FaceTime them regularly. Think of the obvious family members who are elderly, but then think of others, especially those who live alone. Ask God to put someone on your heart who doesn’t have anyone checking in on them throughout the week. Regularly ask if they are ok. Be the person who makes a difference for them.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
2. Send More
There are 35.7 million Americans living alone in the United States. It may seem simple, but send more texts and online messages to people who are isolated in this crisis. Send homemade cards. Send words of encouragement and Scriptures. Send virtual flowers and funny memes and inspiring articles. Send some snail mail. Send a take-out meal. Send a photo album or a jigsaw puzzle of a family photo.
It only takes a few minutes to send something thoughtful, and yet I often forget to do it. But just knowing that you cared enough to send a special message or gift can brighten someone’s day.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. – Hebrews 6:10
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3. Give More
Most of us are tightening the purse strings to get through this crisis, but God might impress upon us to give more financially. Local churches are operating large ministry outreaches, organizing food drives, and helping everyday people hurt by this crisis. That takes funds. Giving to those efforts can help you reach people who you can’t reach physically right now.
Here’s a prime example of what the local church can do.
Luis Toro, owner of Wasabi Juan’s in Birmingham, AL, recently had to let all of his employees go. He couldn’t afford to pay them. He was trying to operate curbside service with his wife, but on March 29th, someone broke into his restaurant, shattered the front door, and stole the register. The cost to repair the damage was out of reach. As you can imagine, Luis was devastated. This crime was a huge insult on what was already a massive injury.
But shortly after posting the news on social media, a group from Church of the Highlands heard of the need and wrote Luis a check to replace everything.
Toro said, “They drove over here. We got the estimates for the door and the cash drawer. And they just wrote a check for us to cover all the expenses. And, that is a little overwhelming to share.”
You may not be in contact with needs like this in your community, but the local church is. This is where people turn in a crisis. Giving to your local church will extend your arms beyond your reach and bless those with critical needs.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
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4. Leave More
We’ve all seen the empty toilet paper aisle, and other sections of the store are following suit. Supply chains are being disrupted in the Covid 19 crisis as workers who grow, harvest, manufacture, distribute, transport, and receive our grocery items meet unexpected challenges.
How can we help?
For now, don’t buy what you don’t need.
But isn’t it wise to stock up for tomorrow? Yes, it is. But the time for stockpiling has passed. We are in a crisis and we don’t need to make the problem worse. We don’t need to buy something for the pantry that others need to put on their plate.
There is a perfect story in Scripture that I think God would speak to us now.
In 1 Kings 17, God sends Elijah to a poor widow to find some food. The Lord could have sent his servant to someone who had more, but He didn’t. He sent Elijah to a woman who had nothing.
"As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she told the prophet, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” (verse 12)
Elijah does something bold. He tells the woman not to fear and encourages her to make him some bread first. That—is an audacious request, one that a modern mindset would find reprehensible, but the woman exercises faith. The Scripture says, “She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry.” (verses 15-16)
As Christians, we have a supply chain that this world cannot disrupt. Trust that as you look out for your neighbor, God will look out for you.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19
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5. Thank More
We aren’t coming in contact with the outside world much these days, but on those rare ventures into the wild, thank those who are working heavily-trafficked areas. Thank the grocery store workers and the fast-food cashier. Thank people who are blessing you through online services. Thank your mail carrier and delivery workers. Thank the company who suspended your bill.
One great way to send a thank-you is by providing a meal for hard-working health care workers through charities like Operation Food Fight in New York City and Feed the Fight in Washington D.C. Such charities serve a dual purpose of supporting a struggling restaurant community while giving a hearty thank you to medical professionals who are pulling long, hard hours.
"They are walking into the break room and there are some seriously good meals waiting for them," said Elena Tompkins, founder of Feed the Fight. "They have been blown away and they just said that they can feel the virtual hug from all of us, so it has meant a lot to everybody."
We can’t thank our heroic medical workers in person right now, but we can express our gratitude with a delicious meal while funding a desperate foodservice industry. That is a major win-win.
I thank my God every time I remember you. – Philippians 1:3
Photo Credit: ©Crosscards/Bethany Pyle
6. Do More
Sometimes in a crisis like COVID-19, we have the opportunity to go the extra mile.
Justin Bradshaw, a Fed Ex delivery man, had just such an opportunity when bringing a package to a house in Boca Raton, Florida. Bradshaw encountered a message on the door which said, “Stop. Someone in this house has an autoimmune disorder…Please leave package on door step.” So Justin returned to his truck and retrieved a sanitizing wipe. He then proceeded to carefully clean the package and left it on the doorstep with this message:
“I sanitized your box once I saw the note on the door. Stay safe.”
Carrie Blasi’s 11-year-old daughter, who has type 1 diabetes, lives inside that house. She described the Fed Ex worker’s act of kindness as an amazing moment that gave her hope.
Bradshaw responded, "I feel like we should all do something to better the situation right now.” This man’s act was so small, but it made a huge impact.
If you find yourself in a position to “do more” during this crisis, seize the moment.
And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. – Matthew 5:41, NKJV
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7. Pray More
Finally, nothing blesses others more than lifting the needs of others up in prayer. And nothing accomplishes more. Make a list of people who need your intercession every day. Put it on your mirror or your nightstand, and pray.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16
If we would find a few moments in our week to ask, send, give, leave, thank, do, and pray just a little more, this crisis will bless us while we bless others.
Like my friend Steve said to that man in the airport, “Come on…,” step aside and put someone else’s needs before your own. “It will be good for your soul.”
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Originally published Saturday, 25 April 2020.