The Covid-19 pandemic has brought troubling situations for many. How do we, despite circumstances, respond with a gracious heart?
There are so many emotions going around right now. We’re all more on edge than usual. Your kids may be causing your patience to wear thin; your spouse’s habits may be frustrating you more than they should, and the overwhelming sense of isolation may be getting stronger.
Some days it’s easier to bury them by binging on series, spring cleaning to pumping music or playing games with friends online. Rather than pressing into my community and sharing other’s burdens – and mine – I’ve often resorted to retreating within myself as a means of coping and to avoid dealing with the emotions inside of me.
I understand. My emotions are on edge too.
The right way to respond
I’m not sure what the right way of responding to this whole situation is, in practical terms. It will look different for each one of us I guess, because we’re all in different situations. I don’t have children to home-school or a toddler to entertain all day. And I do still have a job, a roof over my head and food in my fridge (for these things I am grateful every day). So, like I said, the right way to respond will look different for each of us because of our different situations.
But there is one thing I am certain of when it comes to responding – it’s not necessarily our actions that matter, but more importantly, it’s where our heart is at.
When we look at the life of Jesus, and the resulting testimonies from his time on earth, something stands out so brightly. Something that really sets His life apart:
Overflowing, unending grace.
If any one person epitomised Biblical truth, it’s obviously Jesus. He truly understood justice, righteousness and the fear of the Lord. Yet, when he came across the worst kind of sinners (think prostitutes, tax collectors and idol-worshippers), he didn’t shun them or exclude them – he engaged with them, moved towards them and spoke to them as equals. He never hid the truth from them either of course, but he loved them and extended amazing Grace to them. As a result, basic dignity was restored.
What that means for us
We find ourselves in a completely different context to what Jesus was in. It’s so different, in fact, that many people discredit the Bible because of the vast differences. Unlike those living during Bible times, we have technology, social media, democratic governance, science, and the list goes on. We live differently. This pandemic is a case in point – what a unique time we are living in! Now more than ever, context matters.
As Christians, I really believe that this pandemic is highlighting the necessity of us truly realising and living out our mandate as Jesus followers on earth, in practical ways: Loving our neighbour (like the Samaritan in that famous parable), sharing and living out the Good News, extending grace that is undeserved, being unashamedly truthful in love.
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31 (NIV)
Right now, it is physically impossible for the majority of us to go out of our houses and help people. But there is so much more we can be doing from our homes. Social media and other online platforms are permanently at our fingertips. Kind, hope-filled words, generous contributions of money and advice, support for what is good – thanks to the internet, these things are not locked down!
Enacting grace through a changed mindset
People are suffering all around us. The financially poor have become poorer, our neighbours have taken hits, and people close to us are going hungry. Now more than ever, we need to extend grace. We need to respond graciously to people online, to those we bump into at the shops, to the mother begging at the traffic light.
Rather than turning a blind eye, we need to pray that our eyes remain open. That God breaks our hearts for what breaks His, and that He gives us the strength and wisdom to be able to respond graciously to those we encounter, and to those we feel a prompting on our hearts to reach out to.
Now is not the time to sit idly by. Now is the time to share social media posts of organisations doing hunger relief. It’s the time to click that donate button if you still have financial security. It’s the time to call up your friend you know is suffering with anxiety and depression. It’s the time to become educated on the reality of what’s going on in our nation – a nation that is largely desperate and suffering right now.
You don’t need to do something big or expensive to be gracious. You just need to adopt a mindset that invites grace into every situation. And pray hour by hour for His light to fill you. It’s time to light up the darkness that is all around us at the moment.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18
Would you like to get involved in the our work at CBN South Africa?
- Follow us on social media and share our posts – brand awareness is king in our day and age!
- Donate. We have a Covid-19 Relief Fund which we use to provide relief to some of those who are most in need.
- Prayer. Prayer is powerful, especially in numbers and in agreement. Get in contact with us via our prayerline.
- Know someone in need? We’d love to help wherever we can. Let us know who is need.
- Get more information on what’s happening with the majority of our nation. Knowledge is power. Truth will set you free.