What is our responsibility to others in times of crisis?
Like many others, my family is experiencing a season of economic hardship. While I trust in God’s promises and believe He will provide for me, I still struggle with worry and anxiety about the future.
Balancing my fears with faith has always been something I’ve had to work at. I don’t like feeling out of control or without a safety net. I’m uncomfortable relying on anyone but myself.
But this is exactly what God calls me to. And it’s in times of hardship, economic or otherwise, that my true beliefs and values become clear. Am I a person who trusts God in every situation or am I someone who panics the minute my path gets rough? Do I believe God will provide for me? If I do believe, then why am I not acting like it?
Looking In vs. Looking Up
In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul encourages his readers to take their worries and concerns to God in prayer. This is good advice for us as well. Along with telling God about our needs, Paul says to thank Him for what He has done. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:9).
As a Christian, I know I need to trust God in every situation. But I’m so quick to rely on myself instead. In times of crisis or hardship, an easy default is turning inward and abandoning our belief system in favour of controlling the small number of things we can. This is a natural human response. It gives us a sense of power when we’re in a state of chaos.
It’s in these moments we need to dig into our Christian beliefs and look up to God, relying on His strength in our times of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Looking up means we choose to believe God will take care of us and show us the way forward, even when it doesn’t feel possible. This is a true test of faith and how we respond matters.
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”– Philippians 4:19
When I’m in a tailspin of stress it can sometimes feel laughable to think to pray about my worries or trusting an invisible God will do any good. But it does. I know it does because I’ve experienced the peace Paul talks about in Philippians 4. My goal now is to get to a place where I can be confident in His provision to supply all of my needs in every circumstance.
A New Normal
Living through a pandemic and the following economic recovery will be a first-time experience for the majority of people. The way we live may be forever altered and our relationship with money and income security may also change.
Perhaps a job or investment we took for granted as something that would always be available has all but disappeared. Or maybe the career path we were on has taken a sudden left turn now that many of our social support systems are in flux.
Whatever your personal situation, the coming weeks and months will likely involve a learning curve involving adjusting to changes in lifestyle, revenue and comfort.
Understandably, our priority focus will be on ourselves and our immediate family’s safety and stability. But what about caring for and paying attention to others’ needs? Does our responsibility to care for “orphans and widows in their distress,” (James 1:27) end when we suffer from hard times?
Taking a note from the Apostle Paul’s playbook, I think a lot of this relates to how we feel about money, how much we trust in God’s provision and how willing we are to be uncomfortable if that’s what we’re called to.
Are we able to be generous towards others, even when we no longer have the same level of security we’ve become accustomed to? Are we willing to sacrifice our personal comfort if our heart compels us to offer assistance to someone in need? Do we have the deep-down faith to trust that God will come through for us at just the right time and in the exact right way?
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”– Philippians 4:11-13
If we believe deep down that God will provide for our every need then we won’t be tempted to be self-focused or hoard our abundance when we notice others who are needy. However, it’s not something that’s cultivated overnight—this servant approach comes from a life dedicated to developing spiritual fruit and determined to allow God’s Spirit to work in and through us, no matter what.
I bring this up not to guilt anyone but to remind us that what we think about God will impact our behaviour in every way, especially as we enter a time of economic uncertainty and people will be feeling the pinch.
We’ve all taken a hit in these past months and we’ll continue feeling the ripple effects of this massive global life event for the foreseeable future. But this doesn’t change the fact that people need Jesus and we have a responsibility to live lives of faith and obedience.
In hard times, it’s easy to give ourselves a pass from reaching out to others. We tell ourselves stories like,
- It’s someone else’s job to take care of those who are poor, needy and otherwise struggling with no safety net during these times
- I’ve got enough problems, why should it be my responsibility to bail someone else out just because they didn’t plan ahead for an economic crisis?
- I don’t need to help, isn’t that what the government bailout plan is for?
While it may not be responsible or safe for you to help someone else right now at least take a moment to check your motives. Is this response coming from a place of faith or one of fear? How does Scripture impact your opinions and behaviour during this time? Is God prompting you to go deeper here? What is God calling you to be in this time? Ask honestly and be ready to obey the still small voice.
A Higher Calling
In times of crisis and stress, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. And in some ways this is true. We need to care for our personal well-being and ensure we maintain our health and safety. But we mustn’t forget as Christ-followers we also have a higher calling, a responsibility to share God’s love with others.
Know that we are all facing the same daunting future and we all have similar fears. How we conduct ourselves during these times will reveal our deepest values and beliefs.
Are we able to trust God to provide for our needs? Are we willing to give Him all of our worries and concerns in prayer? And will we help another human, treating them with love and compassion, when we have an opportunity?
What you do matters and it will make a difference.