You may have heard by now that in the few days following the announcement of closures and the declaration of the ‘state of emergency’ that there was a run on some of the basic necessities at the grocery store. People were rushing in and hoarding some of the basics like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I was reading the news and in fact some people had gone to extremes in their hoarding but not just for health concerns. They were hoarding these supplies in hopes of selling them on the internet at huge markups. I read of some people who had made literally thousands of dollars. Reports have been made of people making between $20,000-$40,000 in just the course of days. You buy a bottle of hand sanitizer at $1 a bottle and sell it for $10 or $15 online and it doesn’t take much to realize that you are making a huge profit. But at whose expense?
One of the big problems we are facing in the midst of this ‘crisis’ is the lack of compassion as everyone resorts to a mindset of self-preservation. It would be my opinion that as human beings we are short on compassion even in the best of times. Sadly when pressure builds, we begin to see the worst in people.
As we work through this crisis, so many people are beginning to face some very real threats to themselves and their livelihoods. I don’t know about you, but life has already been stressful without all the concerns about the coronavirus. We have aging parents to care for. We have children to raise. We have jobs that can be very consuming. In each case, relationships can be seriously tested as we navigate even the simplest of things in life. My guess is that every single one of us would find life to be a whole lot better if just a few more people were able to show them just a little bit more compassion. I know I would.
It pains me to see all the anger that is out there. All the people who are ‘out for themselves’. When someone does something we don’t like or agree with we get angry. We get angry with those around us when they don’t treat us the way we want to be treated. We complain when things don’t go our way. We get upset when we are overlooked or not shown the courtesy we expect. But now with the added stressors that have been introduced by the events of late, it becomes all the more tempting to lash out at those around us.
I wonder if we as followers of Jesus can do better. As followers of Jesus we are ‘called to compassion’. I am reminded of the story of the ‘The Good Samaritan’. (see Luke 10:25ff) It was the Samaritan who saw the man on the side of the road and “he felt compassion”. We are told that the Samaritan took care of the man on the side of the road. Jesus commended his actions, and told those around him to “go and do the same”. Think of the glory we could bring to Christ by living this out. If we could be more compassionate, we would inherently be doing a better job at letting our light shine (see Matthew 5:16). By being more compassionate we would be living out the Gospel to those around us. They would know us by our love. Showing compassion to others would also point people to see the goodness of God.
So here are some intensely practical suggestions on how we can be more compassionate in this time of need:
1. As we are talking with people or working with people, treat them as if they are a piece of fine china. Understand that people are fragile and need to be treated with gentleness and patience. Both gentleness and patience are key ingredients of compassion.
This would mean that we shouldn’t rush or push people. We need to be patient with them. Most deadlines are imaginary and unnecessary and are really more about our own convenience. It also means that we should refrain from being critical. Attacking or blaming people is not a good idea. Instead we should show an interest in them. We should be asking lots of questions about who they are, how they are doing and what they are doing.
2. Given the high stress environment that we are now facing, this is a perfect time to show mercy. Mercy is a huge part of compassion.
This means letting go of grudges, forgiving past wrongs, and ridding yourself of any anger or bitterness that you have been holding on to. If we are going to be compassionate we have to understand that most people don’t have the emotional energy to deal with our anger against them in the best of times, yet alone in the midst of what is going on all around us today.
3. Check in on your neighbors
Make sure that those living next door, and on your street are OK. Check in on them. Make sure that they have enough food. You could call them on the phone so that those who are lonely have someone to talk to.
4. If you have the means, you can support one or more of our community ministries that are on the front line of showing compassion. Check out this page on our website for more information: