My wife and I recently ate a meal we picked up from a local restaurant. Their dining area was empty and would close to the public later that evening. They, like so many others, are concerned about whether they can stay in business during the coronavirus crisis.
Unsurprisingly, a US restaurant group has asked the White House and congressional leaders for a $455 billion aid package. They say the industry could lose nearly half of its 15.6 million jobs and at least a quarter of its annual sales because of the pandemic.
More specifically, the group said restaurants could take a $255 billion sales hit in the next three months, a quarter of their projected total sales of $899 billion. They note that the even broader impact could be a loss of $675 billion since every dollar spent at a restaurant generates an additional $2 elsewhere in the national economy.
The group’s request includes the creation of a $145 billion Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund to provide immediate liquidity to operators, $100 billion of federally backed business interruption insurance, and $135 million of disaster unemployment assistance. They are also seeking $45 billion in loans, $35 billion for federal community block grants for disaster help, and tax relief.
Practical ways we can shine the light of God’s love
This story highlights just one aspect of the crisis we are experiencing. Unlike anything in my lifetime, coronavirus impacts every dimension of our lives. The Great Recession affected us financially but not medically. The Ebola epidemic was not global. Even 9/11, as horrific as it was, affected the US more directly than any other nation.
Think about how different the world is today from what it was just two months ago. Is there a part of life that is not affected by this virus and its consequences?
One way we can help our nation is to help each other.
I cannot donate much toward the restaurant industry’s $455 billion request, but I can buy takeout food whenever possible (while observing hygiene standards, of course). I can purchase gift cards for later use. I can encourage the foodservice professionals I know and meet. I can pray for them and their families as they face uncertain times.
I can do the same with other parts of our economy, from healthcare workers to store employees to those in other service industries. And I can encourage others to do the same.
Such practical support is clearly biblical. In a culture that separates the spiritual from the secular and religion from the “real world,” God’s word consistently calls us to meet every dimension of need in our world.
Jesus healed bodies as well as souls. Early Christians cared for the sick (Acts 3), the widowed (Acts 6), and the imprisoned (Acts 12). Paul was concerned that Onesimus be freed from physical slavery even as the apostle had helped free him from spiritual slavery (Philemon 10–17).
Ask the Lord what practical need you might meet in his name today. Ask him to direct you to someone who needs your word of encouragement via text, email, phone, or video. Ask him how you can help meet the financial needs of those who are especially suffering in this crisis.
One day, this pandemic will be over. But those who loved well will be remembered well. And when you “let your light shine before others,” they will “see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Who needs your light today?