While many parts of the Northern hemisphere are used to winter conditions, the winter storm that hit Texas brought the coldest temperatures the state had faced in 30 years. The extreme and sudden weather put pressure on the power grid, which then caused widespread outages lasting for days in some areas.
When storms and other disasters strike, the rest of the world looks on helplessly, wondering what they can do to help.
Many people took to social media to share ways people could financially support the relief efforts, through donating to the Salvation Army, #LoveThyNeighborTX, OurCalling, The Stewpot, Union Gospel Mission, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church and more.
And while the crisis is top-of-mind, the donations will likely roll in. But once it’s out of the news cycle, and power is restored to most homes, what then? Does the need go away as suddenly as it began?
Certainly not, and yet how easy it is to forget.
A key component of the Lenten season is to focus on serving others and looking for ways to better notice those in need and find ways to help. As I ponder the great need in Texas and consider ways I can be of service, my daily Lent prayer comes to mind.
Invite Us Deeper
Almighty and ever living God,
you invite us deeper into your world, your people, your Lent.
May this time be one of outward focus;
seeking you in those we often ignore.
Help us live a Lent focused on freedom, generosity, and encounter.
Give us hearts hungry to serve you and those who need what we have to give.—Author Unknown
As Christians, our commitment to serving the poor and needy amongst us should always be top of mind, but in our busy hectic lives, and our now near-hermit status, this can easily be missed.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.James 1:27
So how can we live out James 1:27 and help people in crisis? Here are a few suggestions.
Start by donating funds to causes that align with your values. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, you likely have more than many others. By practicing charity and tithing you are doing spiritual work and tilling the soil of generosity.
If you really want to help, then help. Make time. Maybe you can’t do a lot, but you can do something. It could be something like visiting a housebound neighbour once a week and dropping off groceries or running errands, or even becoming a foster parent and taking in children who are caught in a difficult situation and need a safe place to stay for a short period of time.
Use your skills
What can you do that no one else can? What are you good at? Use your God-given skills to serve and bless others and you will be caring for those who need help. You may not always realize how much you’re helping but by being available and generous with your time and talents, you will.
Make a point to ask people questions and then really listen to what they say in response. Have deep conversations. Check-in with people. Be present and available if they need someone to talk to.
We’re all busy and stressed, but that’s not an excuse to be unkind. Pay attention to the people around you. Really look at them. Make eye contact and be friendly. Simple acts of kindness can make a remarkable difference in someone’s day.
These are just small ways we can participate in caring for those around us and yet, we find it so difficult to maintain. In our ongoing effort to be more like Christ, this is where we start. Start small, be consistent and watch for ways you can help people in crisis. The big transformations will come.