During the Coronavirus pandemic, that is a question I have heard from a number of people. “I am only one person, what can I do?” But you aren’t just one person, you are one of many asking the same question. There is strength in numbers – a lot of strength!
Here are a few ideas for what you can do.
You can’t help much if you are sick, and you actually require a lot of resources if you are sick, especially if you are hospitalized. The idea of “social distancing” is likely a permanent addition to our language and our lives. Handshaking is likely a greeting of the past. Especially now, minimize contact with others and things others have touched, wash your hands up to your elbows often, and cover your face when you are outside.
Stay in touch
This can be a lonely time. We have more ways to be in touch socially now even when we cannot touch physically. Learn how to do a free 40-minute Zoom contact, learn how to use Messenger, get online training for social media and reach out to those you used to see and miss so much now.
There is a phenomenon in the winter often referred to as seasonal depression. In the winter when people are inside more and with others less, depression soars. Some say it is the reduced sunlight of the shortened day, but my thought it is the lessened contact with friends and the social support system that we depend upon so much.
Reach out by phone and social media. Have a small group get-together by Zoom – stay in touch. No, it isn’t as good as a hug, but it is so much better than silence. That person you call probably needed that call.
Be creative in your relationships at home and online. At home you have a lot more family time – use it wisely. Start new Bible studies, start Financial Peace for Kids with your children, have discussions and learn more about who your loved ones are and how you can be a better parent (Ephesians 6:4), spend this extra time for the benefit of the family and for God’s glory. Online, be creative as well. Have a Zoom meal with friends. Even better, surprise them and order them a dinner from a restaurant that delivers and enjoy the meal and the time “together.” Set chairs in your front yard (does anyone do that any more?) and talk to your neighbors as they walk by. There are more people out walking in the late afternoon than I have seen ijn many years.
This is not the time to stop being generous. Many Americans are going to be receiving stimulus checks and tax refunds. Many of us are retirees whose income has been unimpacted at all, or perhaps only a little. We retired folks have that advantage. Many younger folks have lost their livelihoods and can’t pay rent or buy food much less have money left over. Folks living on Social Security don’t have a lot, but their income has not been cut at all – and it isn’t going to be cut either.
When that stimulus check comes in, when that tax refund check hits your mailbox or bank account, stop and think! Start here in your thinking.
Do I have an emergency fund?
The folks hurting the worst in the rush of unemployment, pay cuts, and job insecurity are those with no savings. We recommend an emergency fund of six months of living expenses. Yes, that is hard to save up; it takes discipline and restraint. But think how much less panic and heartache there would be right now if most Americans had six months of living expenses in the bank rather than that new flat screen TV and sound system.
Save some of that stimulus check and some of that tax return. Start saving for that rainy day. For more details on starting to save, being wise with your savings and building financial margin, see It’s Time to Start Saving, 7 Steps for Financial Progress, and Save More – 10% Isn’t Enough.
Do I have debt?
If you have some debt, put some of your money towards paying it down. Think of it this way, the stock market is uncertain (to say the least) and bank interest rates are close to 0%. Where can you guarantee a 16 or more percent return on your money? By paying off high interest credit card debt, debt building at an average rate that exceeds 16%! Pay a loan off if you can and that frees up the monthly payment you were making.
And stay out of debt if you can.
Do I have additional savings?
Even retired folks need to add to their savings when they can. Add to your retirement savings out of that stimulus check or that refund check. Trust me, it isn’t “free money.” Somehow, some day, that is going to be paid back and taken back in taxes and/or inflation.
Am I forgetting God?
Don’t ever forget that every breath you take much less every dollar you have, comes from our Lord. Why do you have what you do? So you can use it for Him! See The Purpose of Wealth. God didn’t give it to you to make you more comfortable, He gave it to you for you to use for His glory.
2 Corinthians 9:11-13
11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
Amen! Your need to remember God is true whether your “wealth” is $10 or $10,000,000. As I am writing this, it is Good Friday. Jesus could have stayed off that cross. Instead He gave His life to you. Remember that and give to Him.
Those in need are still on God’s heart. Those who give are blessed, those who hold tightly onto what God has given them are not.
27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
Let’s all be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
There are additional resources on these and many other topics throughout our Resources section.
There is a lot almost anyone can do to make the best of this difficult time. Make the best of it in every way. For retirees living on a fixed income, that stimulus money is extra income. For the rest of us, just remember what God has given to you. Save some and use the rest for God. Remember, your church is still doing ministry, people are still getting saved (just as some are staying lost and going into eternity without a Savior), and the church will re-open. Let’s help that happen and make the church better and stronger than ever.
About the Author
John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.