11 marc olivier jodoin TStNU7H4UEE unsplashEnough gloom and doom. The COVID-19 crisis has come to pass. And pass, it will.

The individual days of the past few weeks have all blended together for so many of us. We've each claimed a share of the thoughts, emotion and uncertainty as we watched schools close, events cancel, and businesses either shutter their doors or repurpose their operation to adapt to a situation that changed daily. All the while, though, hope has been looming before us, beckoning us forward.

Your first reaction to this crisis might have been much like mine: sheer disbelief. I mean, we're Americans, right? We tend toward a heady resilience that that automatically rejects the notion that any calamity of grand proportion will ever find us. Then the tornadoes. Or the hurricane. Or the second hurricane right behind it. Or this ... a  pandemic we are more accustomed to reading about in some distant or third world country. Not in Idaho. Or Kansas. Or Raleigh.

As a person of strong faith, I try to be keenly aware of the needs around me. Situations like this health-driven economic disaster are where we're to shine, and unfortunately there's plenty of seeming darkness to illuminate. But offering a light of hope isn't limited to the faithful, so let's get to shining!

Just as we've all had a share of the disaster to call our own, we as a community can all participate in providing our share of light to the shadowy situation around us. As the government-provided economic stimulus has begun to appear for some and promises to for the rest of us, we need to consider how we'll put that to use to the benefit of our community. There are hundreds of small, locally owned businesses operating in some capacity which need your help to survive. They're your neighbors. They're your friends. Their employees have kids in school and on the ball team with yours. Many are offering touchless delivery to your door or curbside pickup. You can shop locally, and you can shop safely.

For those businesses you frequent in better times — even those temporarily closed — you can help in other ways:

Buy gift cards today.

Use those gift cards when they reopen and restock.

Spread the word on social media about your favorite locally owned businesses.

Tip generously for delivery or curbside services.

Please don't overlook the nonprofits and churches supporting our community in so many ways. Whether it's time, money or other resources, your donations and support mean more now than ever before.

To the people of faith, commit to prayer. Pray that God will use this unexpected downtime for good. The place we're all standing is level ground. Let's pray we see reconciliation and quick resolve to painful situations more often than not as we move forward from this as a acommunity, a country and as citizens of the world population.

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