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Look out: Reaching Out

By Steve Gregg

As we wrap up our pastoral reflections considering the impact of COVID, we want to make sure that we not only are reflecting on the impact it has had on us but on others. So often we think that the struggles we have had are unique to us or those closest to us. One of the marks of the past year is how widespread the impact has been on the world. 

And it’s the very fact that this year has caused so much heartache that offers us as christians a powerful opportunity: to love our neighbors who are especially in need of it, allowing us to be light and salt in the world in a way that not only alleviates some of the pain and suffering but to give an answer for the hope that we have in Christ. As we come out of the fog of the past year, this is the perfect time to look around at our co-workers, neighbors and the community to see what they need and how to care for them. Creekside, I am so glad that this is the first impulse of so many of you. Many of us have prayed for open doors to share the good news of Jesus with others in our city. We don’t want to miss the fact that these difficult times are giving us the perfect opportunity to build relationships with our neighbors that could well lead to an opportunity to share our hope in Christ. Here are some suggestions of how to do that:

Some in the medical community have been uniquely impacted the COVID crisis: When we hear the number of hospitalizations and mortality rates, for most of us they are numbers. For folks in the medical field, these are people and families, flesh and blood people who they have seen suffer and in some cases, pass away. The increased workflow and personal risk over a long period of time has for some had a traumatic effect. Reach out to medical folks you know and take time to  check up on how they are doing. Give them a listening ear and then pray with them. 

Teenagers have been especially hard hit: I have spoken to several folks in the mental health field who have said COVID has brought about a mental health crisis that has impacted our youth, particularly teens and college students, especially hard . Providers are seeing a significant Increase in anxiety and depression, suicidal thoughts and drug abuse. If you know a family with teens, include the teens in a social get together to get to know them better and to encourage them. Let them know you are praying for them and follow through by praying for them. 

Students and singles: For people who live with families it can be easy to underestimate how isolating this past year has been for singles, both younger and older. Make it a point to reach out to these folks and include them at a Sunday meal or get together. Again, our dining tables are often our best tool for fostering community and showing people the love of Jesus. 

We know from scripture that doing this (blessing others) will not only help the folks we reach out to but it will be medicine for our souls as well. Jesus was speaking truth when he said we gain our lives by losing them. Reaching out to others, especially at this time not only models the self sacrificial love of Jesus that is at the heart of the Gospel, it will be a blessing to us as well.