Love in an Economic Crisis by JUSTIN LONAS for The Gospel Coalition
As global cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, many Christians have rightly pointed out that we should not be living in a state of fear and panic—God is still in control amid the apparent chaos of life in a fallen, broken world.
Many others have also pointed out that following public-health guidelines and reducing exposure for the sake of the elderly and immunocompromised members of our churches and communities is a vital part of loving our neighbors in this season.
However, all those activities that we’re rightly refraining from to stay physically healthy—such as attending school, dining out, taking vacations, or attending conferences, concerts, or sporting events—have immediate and downstream effects on our economic health.
Calls for vigorous action here are not the same as panic. They may actually be its exact opposite.
Bracing for the Next Wave
As of this writing, U.S. stock markets are down nearly 25 percent from highs of just a few weeks ago, and economic forecasts are grim. What will the long-term economic effects be? We don’t know—we really can’t know—but it seems reasonably certain that for the foreseeable future there will be job losses, cashflow problems, and a real contraction of wealth and economic activity.
Many of us in office jobs, freelance work, or white-collar professions are being told to work from home for a while. We may have to juggle our work with parenting kids who are home from closed schools. We may have to wrestle through dwindling household supplies. But at least in the near-term, we’ll hang in there.
If you’re self-employed or own a small business, a tight cashflow during this time might mean making hard decisions about laying off staff or even going out of business and starting over later.
But the materially poor are likely to feel the effects first and most keenly. A total shutdown of public life looks a lot different when you can’t telecommute. What happens if you lose your job because you can’t find childcare, or have to forego income because a lockdown took away your hourly job at a plant, restaurant, airport, or hotel?
Benevolence in the Long View
For the next few weeks, as we watch and wait for the peak of the outbreak to pass, our churches should be quick to respond to benevolence requests from our members and those in our neighborhoods. We have been blessed with resources for such a time as this.