This time last year there was a growing sense of anxiety about COVID-19 and just how deadly it may be as it began its spread from Washington State and the Greater NYC areas to the rest of the US. There were also warning signs that COVID-19 might not only sicken the nation, but divide it as well.
At the moment, approximately 560,000 of our neighbors, friends and family have died from COVID-19. That is more than the entire population of Atlanta, the nation’s 37th largest city, and home to the National Christian Foundation’s national office. This time last year we were warned we might be facing millions of dead, so we have much to be grateful for, but also many over whom to mourn.
While the death rate has, mercifully, been far lower than feared, the divisions manifested by COVID-19 have been far greater. And, at times, they’ve felt just as painful.
I was heartbroken to learn our youngest children being referred to as Gen C – “C” for the omnipresent “COVID-19.” I know it’s just a label, but it’s true that an entire generation has been shaped by the effects of this terrible virus, and by the divisions we face.
I must admit, I often worry about the growing divisions in America more than the mutating virus. These divisions may well last far longer than the pandemic. Some divisions of the past 12 months are decades, or even centuries old. Others were triggered by the response to COVID-19. But all have been extraordinarily painful, and are taking a toll on the psyche of our nation.
However, as believers in Jesus we have an assurance that the Lord is truly omnipresent and that he will continue the good work he began in us. It is God who shapes our lives – despite the circumstances around us. He has a plan for us, a hope we can hold onto, and a future in which there is no sickness or death. And like the exiles to whom Jeremiah wrote, we will find him when we seek him with all our hearts.
So as believers in Jesus, understanding that the Lord’s plans for us are to prosper and not harm us, what can we do in the face of a still-ongoing pandemic and the divisions among us?
Generosity of heart
Sometimes, the world needs a kind of generosity beyond the financial, a generosity of heart. There’s no better time to consider a generosity of heart than this week, as we live in light of the Easter holiday we just celebrated and remember the gift that was given to us on the cross.
Here are 7 ways the Bible says you can be generous of heart right now:
- Trust in the sovereignty of God alone (Colossians 1:16)
- Love our neighbor (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
- Put others first (1 Peter 3:8)
- Be generous in spirit (Luke 6:37-38)
- Be patient, humble, and gentle, bearing with others in love,(Ephesians 4:2)
- Share the Good News (John 3:16)
- Pour ourselves out for others in need, as our Savior did for us (Philippians 2:7)
In 2020 the NCF community of givers contributed more than $2 billion (up 36 percent) to their giving funds and requested grants to charities totaling $1.33 billion (up 8 percent). That is a grant rate of 67 percent! But generosity, for us, isn’t about numbers, it’s about seeing every person reached and restored through the love of Christ. All over the nation, our community has fed the hungry, supported churches, cared for the sick, sheltered the homeless, rescued those enslaved, created jobs, responded to disasters, shared the gospel, etc.
Many responded to spontaneous, immediate and urgent needs, while others pursued a clearly defined giving strategy. We spent 2020 serving both. At NCF our heart is to help givers create a Giving Strategy that empowers them to be more faithful, generous and fully alive.
As the pandemic lingers, and divisions attempt to tear us apart, I think we can all embrace being more faithful, generous and fully alive. If that’s you, contact a local office and ask about starting a Giving Strategy. We believe generosity changes everything – and we’re all ready for a change.