There is reason to believe that the Bible has actionable principles in a tough time, and we are in for a tough time.
It is hard in WV to believe a tough time is coming. There are few masks and even fewer gloves in public. There is some social distancing. Metro areas in the US are quite different and show more significant lifestyle changes. Reporting in the US, however, is largely parochial — with thinking limited to the lifestyles in the US or a few other wealthy nations. We have friends in other continents who are already getting hungry and have little recourse. Something bigger is happening.
Like it or not, the US no longer stands independent of the rest of the world, and most of that world is not well off. And, the one-two punch of the virus, which knows no boundaries, and economic effects are serious and only in the first stage. This is not a doom and gloom report, but it is realistic. Especially when stimulus packages in the wealthiest countries are already predicated on a simple move: make more money available. Where do you think that comes from? A reserve? Nope. Country savings accounts? Nope. Money will be printed. But revenue is decreasing. Furthermore, most wealthy nations have been living beyond their means for some time.
What about the health arena? Many health reports and studies primarily bank on past event histories (like the 1918 influenza outbreak) that are not altogether helpful. They have greatly helped efforts for enhancing containment, but have not been helpful for economic effects that are worldwide. It is now a globally interactive economy. If you don’t believe that, read the labels on goods that you have and note the country of origin. Economic effects are taking a little longer to emerge, and they emerge first in countries where the supply chains start. If the wealthiest cannot spend money for things and travel, the poorest cannot get orders to make things or get people to come to their nation to spend. Some rural US communities are similar because they produce the basics: agricultural products (like wood in WV, crops in the heartland that go around the world, or mining/processing things that eventually go to industries). If they see a decrease in demand, they must stop or reduce producing, whether it is a potato or a tool made with steel and aluminum. The economic contraction in March increased, April through June will show further contraction — even with government stimulus.
So what does a believer do? This ordeal could continue for months. It is not complicated but a Christian cannot effectively do anything without a living and working relationship with God. Here are some practical and spiritual admonitions that pertain (they are not in any particular order of priority):
- Don’t hoard. Reasonably stock what you need but don’t hoard. Keep in mind you might share a little of what you stock. (Proverbs 11:26, Luke 12:15-21) When we hoard, we contribute to our selfishness and give false indicators to the whole supply chain.
- Be diligent, because your working keeps food on your table and the productivity helps everyone. (Proverbs 13:4, Ecclesiastes 9:10, 1 Timothy 5:8)
- If you have lost work and cannot find work, make your needs known to your family, first, then your church or home group. Ask them for ideas, also, for work. If nothing materializes, volunteer. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
- Pray. Jesus asks if He will find faith on the earth because we are so prone to forget to rely on Him in practical affairs. What do you pray about? Not just yourself is important. Remember to pray for authorities because those in governance or oversight have an effect on local and country policies. Stop blaming them if you are. You most likely would not do any better. Pray for those people but also pray your neighbors, local businesses, health workers. Make your prayer detailed and practical. Exchange complaint with prayer for the thing on your mind. (Luke 18:7-8, Hebrews 11:6)
- Keep your life clean — free of sin. It is a major and repeating theme, so it must be needed for most people!! (2 Peter 3:9, Acts 3:19)
- Don’t stop giving to those organizations that need it. Good ones are still working hard, and many of their works are with those who are disadvantaged. Especially care for them. If you cannot give, volunteer your time. Sometimes your giving simply needs to go to direct to a person or family — not just organizations. (Matthew 10:8, 2 Corinthians 8:7-14, Acts 4:34-35)
- Continue to nurture your time in the Word and direct conversation with God in your thoughts and decisions. Why? That is His intention for you ALL the time. In time of need, where do you think refreshing for the soul comes from? (1 Timothy 4:13)
- Keep an active schedule at home. A little discipline goes a long way to ensure your time is productive. So, promote learning, reading, doing something with your hands, and involve the children if you have some. If you don’t know what to do, ask God. Even if you are seeking work and it’s hard to find, there are almost always vacant or waiting times to fill. Nearly anything you do is better than being glued to social media. (Ephesians 5:15-17 as applied to your home)
- Care for your neighbor. Even social distancing is no excuse for not having some kind of neighbor contact. Pray for your neighbor, check on the neighbor’s situation, and even be available to share food, or clothing, or even a roll of toilet paper. Hear their concerns and inject faith in Christ in the conversation. (Mark 12:31, 1 Peter 3:8 1 Corinthians 10:24)
- Be prepared, if things get more serious, to change lifestyle and priorities without grumbling, complaining, and assigning blame. (Philippians 2:14)
- Last but actually first or foremost for those believers in Christ: He gave us a new commandment, which is new because He lives in us by the Spirit — made possible by His message, life, death, and resurrection. What is it? Love one another. In John 15, where the command is recorded, you will find four repeating words: Abide or abiding, fruitfulness or fruit, love, and command or commandment. These fundamentals are without partiality to economic status, country, age, education, or level of hardship. By the very context in John, it cannot be done without Him. That was His intention from the beginning. (John 15, Ephesians 5:1, Ephesians 5:17-20)
If this down-turn is protracted in terms of months as I think it will be, the time need not be wasted. Let us encourage one another daily through it. It is much better than finding blame, looking for conspiracies, and avoiding personal and practical responsibilities that God says are worthwhile. Plant seed in good soil and it will yield fruit.