Every Deerfoot hike leader is taught that that their own discomfort can be a leading indicator of a group’s need for help or attention. If they feel pangs of hunger, their campers probably need to stop for some gorp or a slice of nay-bread. If they feel the chill of mountain air, they are reminded that it’s time to have their campers change into warm, dry clothes.
We are in good company in this practice. Jesus’ discomfort often prompted him to acts of love and service. When Jesus fed the 5000 in Matthew 14, we have every reason to believe that he was hungry, himself. On a day in which all he wanted was to be left alone to reflect on the death of his cousin, John the Baptist, Jesus instead spent the day healing the sick, responding in compassion to the large crowd that had followed him. Similarly, in the grip of the crisis that would take his life, Jesus restored the ear of one of the temple guards – the very men threatening his own safety. (Luke 22)
It is my prayer that in our current crisis (whether it is a crisis of illness or simply the challenges brought on by social distancing) Deerfooters everywhere can be stirred by their own discomfort to help those around them. Let me be clear: If you are sick, please stay home and allow your family or community to care for you. For those who are well, however, here are some practical ways to serve others in the midst of this challenging time:
- Pray. Prayer is powerful because God is powerful. If accessing the power of Almighty God is unpopular or seemingly a non-response, it is only because we can’t begin to imagine the power of God. Let’s pray daily, or even, like Daniel in Babylon, multiple times a day. Pray for healing, physical and spiritual, at a time when our world seems to understand its own brokenness more clearly than usual. For a powerful Bible study on prayer, see Andrew Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer.
- Meet Needs when you Can. On the fringes of this health crisis, are needy people of all sorts. Some are shut in their homes and unable leave to purchase supplies. Others run small businesses that are shuttered until further notice. Still others work in critical fields as nurses, doctors and emergency workers, but can’t get to work for lack of childcare now that schools are closed. Follow CDC guidelines and local directives to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, if an opportunity arises to safely serve one of these groups, seize it. This will require us to see the world selflessly, as Christ does – not in terms of how it affects us, but in terms of how it needs healing, restoration, and love.
- Give a Reason for the Hope that you Have (see 1 Peter 3). Be bold in sharing the gospel. Talk of a global health crisis sets the stage for a myriad of important questions. Let’s be prepared to give our most compelling answer: That God loves the world and has sacrificed His only Son so that we can have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Imagine the impact that hundreds of Deerfooters could have if we mobilize, seeking to serve at a time when our communities are brimming with needs. Crisis provokes many to fear, but perhaps Deerfooters, in serving, could provoke others to serve or even to come to terms with Jesus, the great Servant-Savior.