We see it over and over – a major crisis arises, and almost immediately the very best of humanity begins to emerge. We’ve observed this following natural disasters, such as floods, tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes. People and organizations mobilizing almost immediately to offer assistance in various forms. And we’ve been seeing it manifested as well in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Maybe many of us weren’t aware of it, but thousands of children from impoverished homes depend on free meals they receive at their schools daily.
When the schools were closed because of health concerns, that left a void – and potentially empty young stomachs. But compassionate, ever-resourceful individuals and businesses have been stepping up to fill it.
One of my daughters took her children to a locally owned pizza restaurant for lunch. While they were awaiting their to-go order, she witnessed an extraordinary act of kindness. A mom with her little boy came through the door. The business had publicly offered a free meal to any child needing one, so she had brought her son to take advantage of the gracious offer.
A member of the restaurant staff looked at the little fellow and asked, “Are you hungry?” He nodded and quietly replied, “Yes.” “What would you like, a slice of pepperoni or cheese pizza?” the staff person asked. After he answered, she also handed him a paper bag containing a sandwich, crackers, apple, banana and grapes, along with small cartons of milk and juice. This act of generosity, as I understand it, has been repeated many times at the restaurant.
My daughter was so impressed by the gesture that when she paid for her own pizza order, she added a substantial tip to help offset the cost of the free food the restaurant was distributing.
I also read about a woman in another city who, in paying her restaurant bill, left a “tip” of $2,500 to be divided among the store’s employees, since many of them would be receiving reduced pay because of restrictions being enacted to contain the virus.
Then there was the major restaurant chain that delivered hundreds of meals for hospital staff working long hours to treat victims of COVID-19. In normal times, it’s so easy to focus on instances of selfish, self-centered behavior we often see displayed in society. But at times of crisis, it’s so heartening to see how people respond to opportunities to demonstrate care, compassion and generosity.
To me, this provides simple, straight-forward evidence that we’re not the products of some mindless, random, evolutionary process. Rather than taking a survival-of-the-fittest attitude, many of us rally together and find ways to help one another. Which points to the Judeo-Christian values that have served as the foundation for our nation since its beginnings.
We have Jesus’ command to “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31). Perhaps you have been a recent recipient of someone else’s kindness. Even if not, wouldn’t we all appreciate such a gesture if we found ourselves in great need?
When asked to define the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Then He added, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). Is there a better way to love our neighbors than to offer them our help?
Another passage gives a similar exhortation: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). It is one thing to speak about the love of Jesus Christ; how much more powerful and effective it is to put the love of Christ into action when occasions arise.
And the best thing about it, we don’t have to wait for another crisis. Even if we’re still practicing social distancing, it’s never too early to start envisioning some simple, caring acts. Kindnesses extended just because we should. If you ever wonder, “What would Jesus do?”, that’s something He would do – because He did them all the time.
* * *