A few weeks ago, I spoke with a friend about what it looks like to live faithfully in the midst of pandemics and lockdowns and civil unrest. We talked about caring for the people in our lives and about being receptive to the Spirit’s prompting as we interact with friends, family, and strangers, but it felt like there must be something more we could be doing. How do we love others well when we’re surrounded by uncertainty and fear? With many of our institutions shuttered and people isolated in their homes, with so much suffering caused or exacerbated by the events of 2020, what can we do to share the hope that we have?
He thought for a moment, then replied, “We all have our missions. Ours is Living Well [the local crisis pregnancy center]. You guys have the Ranch. We invest more in our local missions. We partner with them in the good work they’re already doing in people’s lives.”
When surrounded by a world desperate for hope, choosing to focus on and invest in the image-bearing individuals around us can sometimes feel like lighting a candle when what’s wanted is a bonfire.
We’d been talking about broad societal issues, about suffering that spans the nation and the globe. Sickness and death. Economic ruin. Isolation. Political unrest. Drug abuse and suicide. Such large-scale problems would seem to require large-scale solutions, but instead, he recommended we keep doing the work we’d already been doing. He said we should go small, dig deep, and give more of our time, energy, and money to local organizations that see the great worth and dignity of each person who walks through their doors. He suggested we start not with targeting broad campaigns toward large swaths of people, but with loving the individuals in front of us, and loving them well.
In the vast and beautiful mosaic of the family of God, we each have a part to play in the charge to make disciples of all nations. We all have our missions - in our families, in our workplaces, in our communities. When confronted with the deep needs of the world, give financially as the Lord leads, certainly. But then, dig more deeply into your local mission, whatever it might be. Perhaps it’s the Ranch. Perhaps it’s the local foster care agency, or the suicide hotline, or the homeless shelter in your neighborhood. Perhaps it’s your immediate family, or the people in your workplace.
Wherever God has placed you, see the individual image-bearers around you and invest in them. Do the hard, messy, exhausting work of loving them well, and participate in the world-changing, hope-giving way of the Kingdom of God.
Jenn Palmer, CER Board member