Active compassion in the face of COVID-19

The Coronavirus (COVID-19). We can’t see it, but it’s apparently everywhere. Whether as a virus on a surface, lurking in a handshake, or manifesting in panicked shopping. It’s all around us at the moment.

Some think it’s overblown, others are preparing for the worst. And many, well, they’re just washing their hands. Often. While praying The Lord’s Prayer for 22 seconds!

Make no mistake, fear and anxiety are beginning to escalate. It seems distinctly likely we are entering a period of uncertainty, economic instability, illness, and death. COVID-19 will impact us all.

What shall our response be?

Clearly, we should heed the advice of medical experts. But as believers, is there more than prayer?

Can we be a people who respond to fear and uncertainty with active compassion?

The charities we support will need us now more than ever. In periods of uncertainty, demand for services escalates, just as many supporters struggle to maintain giving, our charities need even more resources. But what about the staff of those charities? What can we do to care for them and their families?

And our churches? My service this weekend was about 50 percent down in attendance. In the days ahead, our church leaders will undoubtedly need help checking on elderly and infirm congregants. Single-parent families may need help with childcare. Many may need financial support if they lose income or jobs.

And our communities? The poor and marginalized already live on the edge. Post September 11th, my church distributed millions of dollars to low-paid workers who lost jobs in the towers themselves, or in hotels when occupancy rates plummeted and low-paid staff lost their jobs. If China, Korea, and Italy are a foretaste of days to come, our local hospitals and doctors may need volunteers. Ill neighbors may need food delivered. The elderly may need a spare bed. Everyone will need hope, and we, are a people of hope. Especially when the days are at their darkest.

One thing is clear, our communities will need social cohesion, not just social distancing. Love, and not fear. Friendship, and not isolation. Generosity, and not scarcity.

We can’t see COVID-19, but we can see believers rising up across the nation to put our neighbors first. We can practice brave and compassionate generosity, because we understand that generosity started at the cross with a sacrifice, and it spread like wildfire.

May we all be first responders in generosity, in his name.

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