Frugal Living

Coronavirus. Tired of hearing that word? So many things happening in our world. So much uncertainty, panic and fear. So much news. So many conflicting stories. So much of our “normal” is set aside. Canceled. Postponed. So be it. 

There is a new normal in our world. How can we not just survive, but thrive?

I thought I would share what my family is doing to prepare and diminish the effects of this difficult season.

Pray

I have recently taken to considering the Puritans. Family prayer, family worship and family devotions would have been their normal. After Jesus presented the encouragement to be anxious about nothing, to lay treasures in heaven, He then declared: “‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you’” (Matthew 6:33 ESV).

In this very difficult season, these words are beautifully profound. And in a time where it is easy to be anxious, the next verse is a healing balm: “‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’” (Matthew 6:34 ESV).

So my encouragement in this season is that we all pray, that we gather and worship (in our homes and in our hearts), and that we spend more time reading God’s Word than we do listening to the news. Remember, God is still sovereign.

Prepare

Likely many of us wish we had done more to prepare. Some are kicking themselves with the thought: “I wish I paid better attention in that financial workshop at church!”

That’s probably true. I would encourage everyone to take steps beyond this crisis to be in a better position. For now, let’s consider some next steps:

>Food

Can we knock it off with stockpiling toilet paper? And hand sanitizer? And stop buying up perishables, like bread and milk and junk food.

On the homestead, we have a larder. It’s the place where we store up food provisions. We don’t buy up bread. We stock up on supplies to make bread. On our shelves we have flour, sugar, salt, dried beans, rice, canned goods, canned meats, pasta, spaghetti sauce and spices to make it all tasty. Think of your great-grandma. What would she have in her pantry?

>Water

Calm down folks. I have no expectation that the water company or the electric company will go out of business. It doesn’t hurt to have a few cases of bottled water, but water from your tap is still there, and electricity is still there, both vital for making the all-important cup of coffee first thing in the morning to drink while you are having your morning devotions.

So, grab some bottled water if it makes you feel better, but let’s not get carried away.

>Finances

We all typically make the worst decisions during a crisis. The stock market news for those who have investments is pretty scary. But the ups and downs of the stock market are normal. I had someone ask me what I thought she should do. (Note: I am NOT a financial consultant.) She was considering selling everything off.

I was reminded of a scene in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the movie, George Bailey is the hero. Mr. Potter, the miserly old money-grabbing rich dude was the nemesis. Bailey ran Bailey Savings and Loan. Mr. Potter wants it, as he owns everything else in Bedford Falls.

The movie depicts the stock market crash of 1929. There is a panic. People want their money out of the bank. Bailey forgoes his honeymoon to deal with the panic. (His “normal” changed very quickly.) He explains to the scared people how their money is not sitting in the bank. It was used for the benefit of every member of the Bailey Savings and Loan.

Mr. Potter was offering 50 cents on the dollar to buy their shares of the Savings and Loan. In a panic, the people almost make that deal. But Bailey prevailed, and the people only withdrew the cash they needed in the moment. Here is an excerpt from George Bailey’s speech:

“Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling. Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicking and he’s not. That’s why. He’s picking up some bargains. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We’ve got to stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.”

Have faith

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.”

That old hymn rings true today. We do not put our faith in stockpiling toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Our faith is in the One who created all things. He truly has the whole world in His hands. As believers, our hope is found in Christ, the solid rock. All other ground is sinking sand.

May our faith in God, our faith in the Risen Lord, and our faith in one another as followers of Christ measure up to the test of this crisis. May God be glorified as we love and care for one another, for our neighbors, even for our enemies. To God be the Glory! And all God’s people said, AMEN!

Denny Dillman is benevolence pastor of Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus. He lives on a homestead in Indiana with his wife, Jennifer. They have 10 children.