About a year ago, my husband started a retail business. Like most new ventures, it involved the discomfort of uncertainty, financial strain, and long hours at work. But slow and steady, it stabilized and grew.
Then the coronavirus hit. Initially, sales slowed. Then they plummeted. And when the stock market crashed, the majority of orders purchased in the previous month were returned. Now, the future of the business—and consequently, our finances—looks bleak.
This global pandemic has hit many of us financially. It’s affected hourly employees whose workplaces have closed. Parents who can’t go to work because their kids are no longer in school. Those who’ve lost jobs due to rapid downsizing. And it’s affected those like us, owners of small businesses, who just weren’t ready to weather this type of storm.
Church, we need your care right now.
When crisis happens, we’re all at risk of getting stuck in our own heads. We spiral in worry, lost in thoughts of tomorrow when God has only given us grace for today. We need you to reach out, to talk us off our emotional ledges with truth and love. When you see our struggles and care for us, it reminds us God sees and cares too. And though we can’t enjoy face-to-face fellowship right now, phone calls, texts, and emails can help interrupt our faulty thinking and point us back to God.
Our interaction doesn’t always need to be serious to be helpful. Sometimes the best thing to do in the midst of chaos is to stop talking about it. How can you stir others to experience happiness in their hardship? Laughter is a gift from God, and honestly, a timely meme is good for the soul. “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed” (Prov. 15:13).
Keep Us in Your Prayers
You are limited in how you can help. Your words of encouragement, no matter how timely and true, cannot move hearts apart from the Holy Spirit. But God bends his ear to hear his people, and you can intercede for us. When you ask God to provide for us, encourage us, and sustain us through trial, he will.
He doesn’t always act in the ways we expect, but he always answers our prayers with perfect wisdom. And when you pray for us, let us know. It comforts us and reminds us to do the same.
Offer Practical Care
The church has a long and beautiful history of providing care amid financial adversity. A compelling witness to the outside world, the early church sold their belongings to distribute to those in need (Acts 2). They showed costly love to provide for one another.
Though we should always seek ways to extend God’s provision, this is a particularly good time to be attentive to that call. There are single parents in your congregation who need childcare so they can work, and financial help when they can’t. There are families already living paycheck to paycheck who have no idea how they’re going to pay rent this month. There are business owners coming home without paychecks as they try to keep their business afloat. When you act in generosity, you may be the answer to someone’s prayer for provision.
Your generosity will also build our faith to support others, helping us trust God for provision instead of fearfully chasing self-preservation. The Macedonian church gave joyfully amid a severe test of affliction (2 Cor. 8:1–2). Those of us in financial strain right now have an opportunity to follow suit—to be generous, even in the midst of great need.
Let Us Share Your Burdens, Too
Along with trials comes the temptation to be self-consumed. Even if your struggles and hardships are far different from ours, please keep sharing them—it reminds us we’re not the only people hurting.
Sometimes, the greatest comfort for those in trial is to care for others in trial. Love among the brethren goes both ways. I need others to help carry my burdens, but I’m called to carry theirs as well.
And as we care for one another, tending to the health of the whole body, Jesus will care for us.
Remind Us of a Bigger Story
Like the Israelites and generations since, we’re tempted to forget God’s unchanging faithfulness to his people. We need to be reminded of the God who sustained Job, the God who protected Esther, and the God who provided for Ruth. We need to be reminded that he still sits on his throne, and that wars, natural disasters, pandemics, and economic crashes never happen outside of his sovereign hand.
Regardless of what the future holds—even if it’s all the worst-case scenarios running through our heads—God has not changed. And his mission hasn’t either. He is still seeking and saving the lost, and working through his beloved people to advance his kingdom. Our daily life might look different right now, and it might even get worse in the future. But our ultimate calling hasn’t changed, and our ultimate security hasn’t shaken. We are a part of God’s great story of redemption. Though we may not know what happens tomorrow or next month or next year, we do know that God’s story ends in victory.
Author’s note: this article was first published at The Gospel Coalition.