When we read of Joseph in Genesis (Gen 41-45) and his dream of seven years of plenty and seven years of drought, this life cycle between prosperity and poverty life happens. Search for “Panic of” and you read about America’s Panic of 1837, 1873, 1893, 1907, and 1929 in American history. The 1929 panic was worsened by Hoover and FDR’s government meddling in the market. But my initial answer to this current Panic of 2020 situation? This, too, shall pass.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness” is what Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities. You see the “best of times” and the “worst of times” during this coronavirus/COVID-19 situation. I’ve seen the pictures of and experienced myself some of the empty shelves of toilet paper, eggs, meat, cold medicine, bottled water, and other items. But let me be clear, the ONLY time you will ever be without water from your faucet in your home is during war/terrorism, hurricanes, tornadoes, or weak or corrupt management of the water plant. Food and supplies will be delivered, so stop the panic buying.
Currently, Disney and Universal theme parks and other organizations are temporarily closing their businesses or canceling theirs and other public events to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Our lessons learned during the History of 1918 Flu Pandemic and other Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) help to mitigate the spreading of the virus, but let’s not go overboard with extreme and panic behaviors by individuals or our governments.
Downturns, whether by economic or health issues, are a good thing for people. Having a growth mindset, you find necessity is the mother of invention. Downturns make you rethink how you earn a living and spend your money, but it is also a time when people get creative and think outside their current life box. When I go to bed, I hand ALL of my questions to God to sleep well, and I ask Him for wisdom for my problems when I wake up (Jas 1:5). He does not sleep (Psalm 121) and has not failed to help out when I listen to Him, especially when I have a pen and paper next to my bed, and He pings me at 5 AM.
We see the good happen all the time when during the worst of times, the best of humanity comes out; it has its roots in the Bible.
2 Cor 8:10-15 I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality—at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, “HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK. (Exod 16:18)”
You see these behaviors all the time during a contraction of an economy. But like Corbett and Fikkert’s book When Helping Hurts, their model of giving first covers relief, secondarily help results in rehabilitation, and then finally regeneration. Relief stops the economic bleeding during the period of crisis and comes in many forms (Centurylink for 60 days will “waive late fees and [...] not terminate a residential or small business customer’s service due to financial circumstances associated with COVID-19”). Social distancing or quarantines slows the spread of the virus, but canceled events mean workers or businesses don’t have an income, especially the service industry. I know of one Christian event management company which lost $40 million in revenue in recent weeks, it’s not just “Mom and Pop” businesses. Restaurants are “closed” and have to get creative, offering take out, delivery, and curbside pickup for online orders. If you have the means, give a larger tip for those in this service industry so they can be better prepared to weather this situation. Wuhanshih, Hubei, China is passing day 60 of the city’s quarantine, but there is a silver lining.
A Facebook friend of a friend writes, “Our family life has never been better. Usually one weekend is long enough before I’m ready to send each of us back to school or work. But for SEVEN weeks, we’ve been home together with very little outside influences or distraction, forced to reconnect with one another, learn how to communicate better, give each other space, slow down our pace, and be a stronger family than ever before.” Younger folks talk with older people to learn their wisdom on how to weather this lousy season, and you make a new friend.
Homesteading habits kick in or are shared, cut up old t-shirts and cloth diapers are thrown in the washer replaces the scarcity of toilet paper (or throwaway diapers). Because of little traffic in Wuhan, pollution is clearing, noise is abated, and birds are once again heard singing and quiet time reading the Bible and praying is actually quiet time. Reading or writing books, exercising, cooking becomes creative when you invite single moms, elderly, and college kids living on their own over for meals. Connecting with others, you become a community once again.
Relief then moves into rehabilitation, seeking to restore individuals and communities toward their pre-crisis conditions. Rehabilitation is the silver lining of opportunities for learning (the Japanese term Kaizen, “change for better,” means making improvements) and entrepreneurship. The cream rises to the top learning the “tried and true” of wise old homesteading habits versus “new and improved” discoveries. Learn a new skill to start your Lean Startup. Kids home from school can visit Khan Academy to get tutoring or watch a YouTube video to make your hand sanitizer using essential oils. Kids in Turkey programmed and shared their Instagram video of their robotic hand sanitizer to combat their #COVID19 issues. Diversify your incomes, clients, products, and services, look for new ideas for business or start a side gig.
Like Joseph, prepare during good times for the bad times; but slow economic times are not a time to consider it a vacation but a chance to “gear up and man up” for better times. “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” by G. Michael Hopf from his book, Those Who Remain. The “hard times create strong men” cycle is beginning again; supply chains shipped to China may be brought back to American soil.
Prepare yourself and don’t panic, feed on God’s faithfulness, not on Satan’s fear.
Psalm 46:10 (AMPC) Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!