The usually busy streets of Chicago are empty. The city responded, like so many others, with a lockdown. In the midst of the silence, WGN television reports on a lone voice singing “Hallelujah.” The local street performer, Andrew David said, “What is the purpose behind the performance? I realized that people are looking – in the midst of calamity – for peace.”
The Coronavirus global pandemic has reminded us that we are closely bound and dependent upon one another. It seems that in “normal” times, we ignore, or perhaps take for granted, our connection to and need for each other. We seem to spend more time building barriers and securing our borders to isolate ourselves rather than building bridges to connect us. It is a natural response for us to protect and isolate ourselves, but isolation makes us vulnerable. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (VOICE) reminds us that:
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Disasters and crises are not new to us. During the crisis leading up to the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine (American Crisis, Vol 1), wrote:
“These are the times that try men’s souls.
The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will,
in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country;
but he that stands by it now deserves the love and
thanks of man and woman.”
It seems that Paine’s words are as true today as they were back then. But during times of crisis, the embers of fear, isolation, and division are too easily flamed. Disaster and crisis bring out the best; and the worst of us. We see people hoarding needed supplies, and we receive daily warnings of telephone and email schemes that take advantage of and exploit us.
However, we also see Jesus-like leadership in action. We see random acts of kindness and selfless acts as people look beyond themselves and their situations. We see ordinary people reaching out offering comfort and aid. We see young people shopping for elderly neighbors, we see others delivering food to hospital staff, and we see people in Pittsburgh and Italy singing from the streets and balconies. Our appreciation increases for first responders, doctors, and nurses, and we can now add to the list teachers and child-care workers.
Lifeway Research (2013) reported two more changes in our behaviors in times of crisis or disasters: the amount of donations increase and more people turn to God. The research showed that “almost 60 percent of Americans donate to relief agencies in the wake of natural disasters.” The study also reports that “nearly six in 10 Americans (57 percent) agree with the statement, “When a natural disaster occurs, my interest in God increases.” If you are asking yourself, why does this happen? I think that the answer is simply that in times of crisis, we want things to get better, we want a return to normalcy, and we need stability. To understand why we turn to God in times of crisis, we need to define stability.
Stability is defined as “steadfastness or firmness of character, firmness of resolution or purpose.” In crisis situations, we seek God because only He can provide the love, compassion, mercy, and stability that we need. Lamentations 3:22 (ESV) tells us that:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end …”
Stability is the vaccine that inoculates us from chaos. While we should be steadfast or faithful in our beliefs, we also have a responsibility towards each other. We should create and promote stable environments in our public and private lives. We share responsibility for providing leadership and creating stability by modeling Jesus-like behaviors. We can begin modeling Jesus’ leadership by:
- Loving one another (John 13:34-35). When we express our love, we demonstrate our genuine concern for one another.
- Serving each other (Philippians 2:3-5, ESV). Do something positive during this self-quarantine or lockdown. Serving others releases us from our current situation; it improves someone else’s.
- Connecting with others. Spend time with your spouse and children, call your family, friend, and co-workers just to check in and make sure they don’t feel disconnected.
- Share your gifts and blessings (Hebrews 13:16, NOG). Even if you can only share a little, it is more to someone with less.
- Be truthful (Proverbs 11:3, NLV). No one expects you to have all the answers, but they do expect the truth; even bad news is better than a lie. Your integrity speaks volumes about you.
- Be patient (Ephesians 4:2, ESV). We tend to become impatient when we are on hold or waiting in line but remember that the other person is going through this same crisis. Rather than expressing your displeasure, express your appreciation. Imagine how much worse things would be if they weren’t there to serve you.
Challenge: Don’t let the list end here; please add to it. Remember the current crisis will pass, but the strategies we used will be less important than how we treated each other. Ephesians 2:10 (TLB), reminds us:
“It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus, and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.”