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New York City’s subway system closes for first time in 115 years: The reward of unseen service

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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New York City's subway system closes for first time in 115 years: The reward of unseen service
NYPD and MTA officers wake up a sleeping passenger before directing him to exit the 207th Street A-train station, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday, New York City is shutting down its subway system each day from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to increase cleaning of trains and stations during the coronavirus crisis.

New York City’s subway system closed last night for the first time since it opened in 1904. It will remain closed daily from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for the foreseeable future. This is because transit workers need this time to disinfect trains, stations, and equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

An hour before the system’s official last call, about a thousand police officers and over one hundred outreach workers from the Department of Social Services fanned out across the system to begin clearing stations. Police officers closed gates or tied yellow caution ribbon across entrances to keep people away. Outreach workers offered homeless riders assistance in finding a shelter.

Workers wearing Tyvek suits, shoe covers, and face masks mopped floors and wiped down every bench and pole. They also swept every car and scrubbed off graffiti.

The interim president of the transit system said in a news conference yesterday, “This is the single largest cleaning and disinfecting program we’ve ever undertaken by a mile.”

The reward of unseen service

When riders boarded trains again today, they were the beneficiaries of these unseen servants. Most will never know the names of the men and women who worked through the night to keep them safe.

This is true of so many dimensions of our culture as we fight this pandemic. Researchers we could not name are working on therapies to mitigate symptoms of COVID-19 and vaccines to keep us from becoming infected. Workers are bringing food and supplies to our stores and our homes. Technology providers are enabling us to work online and remotely.

The same is true for us. As I noted in a website article earlier today, God knows our names and every detail and dimension of our lives. (See my article here.) And if we serve him and others, he takes note and rewards our sacrifice in ways the world may never acknowledge.

When we help someone in need, Jesus says we are serving him (Matthew 25:40). When we use our gifts and resources to love our Lord and our neighbor, we render service he notes and rewards (Matthew 25:23).

In fact, Jesus taught us, “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” (Matthew 6:3–4a). With this assurance: “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (v. 4b).

When you have an opportunity to render unseen service today, know that your Father is watching. When you can serve someone who cannot serve you, you are serving your Savior. And he will respond, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

When this day is done, will he say these words to you?

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