Caring for Others During COVIDBy Marby Iglesias
August 14, 2020
These last couple of months, maybe more than ever, we are very much aware of the things we cannot do. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many changes have been integrated into our now new normal. We can’t host a birthday party, we can’t meet without social distancing and masks, and we most definitely cannot kiss and hug friends and extended family. Life in the new normal started as a fog for many of us. We held our breath hoping that it would soon pass. But the last few months might just be the beginning of an unanticipated season and it is time to assess what God is specifically calling you to do as part of his church, his bride.
The Bible is filled with a plethora of verses that highlight the service we ought to give to one another. Love one another (John 13:14), pray for one another (James 5:16), forgive one another (Colossians 3:13), bear with one another (Galatians 6:12), accept one another (Romans 15:7), be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50), and serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Is it possible that there has been a halt in our call to love and serve our fellow brothers and sisters now that regulations restrict us in so many ways? Obviously, we love by not exposing others to a potentially deadly virus, but we should not stop there. This pandemic has revealed an abundant number of needs within the body of Christ. Throughout the country, isolation, fear, and desperation have blanketed our people, Christ’s people. How can we care for others during this coronavirus season? How are the one anothers of the New Testament lived out in short worship services, with smiles hidden under masks and hugs withheld?
The vast amount of media coverage, the speculation, and the radical change of pace can easily leave us all with brain fog. The days go by and we can easily become consumed with our worries and trials. Without ongoing fellowship we begin to forget our brothers and sisters and even if we attend church, we find ourselves in haste with burdens and cares no longer so easily shared.
If we are to care for others, we need to understand that it will only happen if we intentionally identify and pursue those God has laid in our hearts or our ministry circle. If you are a mother of little ones or care for an elderly parent, there are spiritual and emotional needs that can just as easily be neglected. Caring for others begins with a conviction that God is in control, and because he is caring for me, I can extend that trust and love to others. Who in your circle of influence is God calling you to care for in this season? Maybe it’s a single mom who is navigating the burden of homeschooling while being the sole breadwinner in the family. Maybe it’s the elderly couple overwhelmed with the demands of new technology but also heartbroken to not be able to see their loved ones. Maybe it’s the young lady who is fighting opposing worldviews and does not know how to interpret current events through the lens of Scripture. Caring requires that we take the time to look around and let the burdens and hurts of others become ours as well.
As we enter into people’s lives, different opinions and political views may quickly surface. As the people of God, we cannot allow a polarized nation to dictate how we treat one another. The gospel is never changing and our sole hope in this life and in the one to come. Let’s encourage one another with the truth of God’s Word; only it is life-giving and everlasting.
To care well for others in this season an abundant amount of grace is needed. The level of comfort will vary from person to person. Some will be willing to meet you in person; others will only connect by phone or video call. Grace, grace, grace, and above all love. We are called to love earnestly and this includes letting the gospel be what compels us to serve brothers and sisters that are processing this pandemic differently from us.
One of the challenges during this season is found in the means of care. The usual ways of reaching out to the needy are now removed and in its place, we must reinvent care. The church of Christ has always been flexible to change through generations, trials, and epochs. Today is not different. I have several family members that have suffered from moderate to severe COVID symptoms. One of the greatest encouragements for them were people just passing by and dropping off meals in their front door or receiving get-well cards in the mail from some of the kids they know. Others who are lonely and home-bound could also use similar encouragement. Phone calls are now probably the closest thing to a hug and when possible, replacing a text with a video or phone call can be a breath of fresh air to a troubled soul.
I love the opportunity to send snail-mail in this season. We have sent hundreds of handwritten notes to either church members or for invites to virtual church events. Our women’s ministry began hosting a virtual tea party. Our ladies receive a monthly paper invite, a teabag, and some goodies in the mail before the meeting. Encouragement can take many forms and we can be certain that the power is in the means of grace (the encouragement) not in the mediums through which that grace is delivered.
Back in 1527, a deadly plague hit the reformer Martin Luther’s town of Wittenberg. Many fled the town since the black plague had already ravaged many cities across Europe. Luther chose to stay and made his home a hospital for the sick. It was a time were viruses weren’t as clearly understood, but Luther did understand radical gospel love for those hurting. During those dark times, when his 2-year-old son became sick with the plague and almost died, he penned the famous hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God:
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing
Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
We might not fill our home with COVID patients, but wisdom tells us that self-preservation should not define our priorities—Christ-likeness should. We can care for others in these unprecedented times because we are being held and protected by our fortress.