Every day brings new opportunities to celebrate, even in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances. We just need to recognise those moments.

Corrie ten Boom, who survived imprisonment in the Ravensbruck concentration camp during the Holocaust, shares this story of hope*:

During morning roll call that often lasted several hours in shivering cold weather conditions, Corrie faced a time of crisis. Prisoners who couldn’t remain standing, were mercilessly beaten by the guards.

During one such moment of cruelty, Corrie had a hard time to focus on God’s goodness. Then suddenly a bird appeared in the sky and the sweet, pure notes of the bird’s song rose in the still cold air.

As every head turned upward, Corrie was reminded of Psalm 103:11: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is (God’s) mercy towards them that fear Him.”

This reminder gave her courage and hope to persevere and after her release, Corrie travelled the world to share the message that God has plans – not problems – for our lives.

So likewise, in response to challenging times, let us keep a balanced perspective and celebrate the opportunities before us.

Here are five ideas to make wise time investments:

1. Reflecting on what is really important

Spend some quiet time reflecting on what is most important. Maybe you have a very busy season behind you, but now have the time to examine your own life and reorder your priorities. Do you want to spend more time in prayer or studying the Bible? Would you like to take a new direction or learn a new skill?

Or what about reaching out to others in your community who are lonely or need some practical help? Rethinking the way you live may be as basic as creating special moments of gratitude, kindness and compassion every day.

2. Using your time to rest and reconnect

This may also be a good time to slow down, take some time to rest and reconnect with family and friends. Think about how to maximise quality time to create family memories which will last a lifetime. For example, every family member can somehow contribute to getting household duties done, while family activities such as playing board games together can fill the home with laughter.

Or what about encouraging your circle of friends to do a project together, which will leave a lasting legacy? Possibilities are endless, but whatever we do, let us make a firm commitment to share stories of hope, have solution-focused conversations and build meaningful connections.

3. Appreciating the beauty of nature

Sometimes a crisis brings unexpected positive outcomes. It is reported that there has been a significant drop in the level of air pollutants over certain cities and regions.

This is due to a reduction in work and travel to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. That is great news and gives us another reason to celebrate. So, why not use this time to get out in nature, plant a tree or learn new ways to reduce carbon footprint.

4. Reaching out to others

During times of social distancing, the vulnerable, the elderly, the chronically ill and children at risk may become even more isolated. But it is also an opportunity to find creative ways to get services, food and resources to those who need it the most.

So, wouldn’t it be great if we can implement coordinated efforts to reach those in need, while still adhering to safety measures? Even if you are not able to be part of a community project, reaching out to others in your immediate circle, is just as important. For example, employers need to look at plans to ensure that their employees, who may not be able to work onsite during this time, do not lose income.

5. Developing new innovative strategies

South Africans are resilient and creative. We need to pray for all who are adversely affected during this time. We trust that collectively we will find innovative ways to strategise, diversify and thrive.

It may even be an opportunity for your business or nonprofit organisation to shift into a new direction. Some ideas include rethinking the use of venue space, using online tools to communicate, finding new ways of collaboration or presenting services and products in a different form.

Remember that all successful inventors and entrepreneurs, started by looking at a problem differently than the rest. So, instead of focusing on lost opportunities, may we gain the wisdom to turn the worst of times into the best of times.

“The school of life offers some difficult courses, but it is in the difficult class that one learns the most,” said Corrie ten Boom.

So, let us look up and look out for others, for we have a Wonderful Counsellor in whom we can trust.

Article by Mariëtte Jacobs, Managing Director of Ezrah Community Training and Development NPC.

*Corrie ten Boom with Jamie Buckingham. (1974). Tramp for the Lord. Hodder and Stoughton Limited: London.