Thursday, October 16, 2014

EBOLA!!! To Fear or Not to Fear


A bloody, painful, plague-like mess of a sickness that strikes fear into the hearts of people when they hear it.  According to the CDC, it first reared it's ugly head 38 years ago in 1976.  Incidentally, the year I was born.  It was hit or miss through the 80's and then made a small comeback between 1995-1996.  There have been a number of outbreaks of Ebola in Africa in the 21st century, but the most recent, and the most deadly at 2,431 deaths so far, is the first to make contact inside the borders of the US.

With an incubation period of 4-16 days, Ebola rests quietly until the signs and symptoms suddenly arrive.  Without warning patients experience fever, chills, headache, anorexia, and muscle pain. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and sometimes sore throat and cough will develop as the disease progresses.  Eventually the victim of Ebola will bleed out internally and through orifices because the virus has attacked the platelets and arterial walls.  This often causes shock and respiratory distress.  This virus is highly contagious via significant contact with bodily fluids from person-to-person.

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On October 8th, Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia, died of Ebola in Dallas, TX.  Since then there has been a healthcare worker in Spain and in Dallas that have contracted the virus.  The government and every healthcare facility in the country are trying to make sure that no one else contracts it. 

In spite of all the precautions, fear abounds.  Why?

Do You Fear What I Fear?
Fear is natural.  To dislike the idea of death is natural.  Death is the antithesis of what we were created for.  We were created for life.  Yet we live in a broken, sinful world in which sustained life for eternity is impossible.  This body will, at some point break down and we will die.  Whether it happens due to age or a disease remains to be seen.  But death and fear are most certainly a part of our sinful nature that we will wrestle with until we one day pass from this world.

I confess that I am no fan of death.  I worry about what would become of my family if it happened early.  I want to be used of God for as long as possible.  I suppose it speaks to my need for greater sanctification.  The Apostle Paul said that to live is Christ and to die is gain.  I suppose I need to do more living for Christ that I may more greatly appreciate death as gain.  If we truly have confidence in God as sovereignly in control of all things including the numbering of our days, then we have no need to fear our death or fear for the lives of those we leave behind.

But should we fear Ebola?

What Confidence Do We Have?
It may seem dark, depressing, and unnerving to be reading what I have written so far.  It should be. You may be asking, "Why in the world are you putting this out there?"  For one, we need not allow fear to cause us to remain ignorant of threats.  There are practical tools and processes to be utilized when fighting any enemy whether human or disease.

We should know the threat and we should know what our defenses are.  They are put in place by God for our protection.  They should however, always be accompanied by prayer and faith in God that they would work.  But, when those defenses fail, and they do sometimes, then we must continue to trust that God is still in control and; He has our best and his glory in mind.

The truth is that this is the world we live in.  It is broken, often dark and depressing, and to be sure the idea of Ebola is unnerving on some level, no matter how strong your faith is.  We still live in a vessel of clay that experiences pain and suffering and we still battle with a sin-nature that would rather ignore problems than face them head on.  But we must.

There is hope.  There is a confidence to be had.  However, it is not necessary or even healthy to ignore a problem in order to exercise faith in that hope.  The Apostle Paul continually points to problems involving sin and suffering and expresses his own frustration in having to wrestle with it

(Romans 7:7-25).  The fact is that Ebola is real, death is real, and fear is real.  Now let's look at the very real promises in scripture as they relate to these things.  

Promises From God's Word

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Psalm 39, 90, and 139 all speak to God's sovereignty over the length of our days.  One peace that we must learn to rest in is that, as believers, our Heavenly Father caused us to come into existence and determines when we will leave this life and enter into a glorious eternal existence with Him.

The primary text that comes to mind for me as a promise to stand on regarding Ebola is Psalm 91. Though it is only sixteen verses it would not due to quote it hear.  I would encourage you to read it and meditate on it.  I will point out that it speaks of The Most High as our refuge and fortress delivering us from pestilence and plague as well as physical enemies.  It is wonderful news that we can trust in and depend on.

Think Eternally, Believe Biblically
However, it is imperative that you know in whom you have believed(2Timothy 1:12).  You really must know that you are putting your trust in the biblical God and the biblical Savior.  It is in
this God and Savior that you will find safety and protection.  The reason that this is so important is because the promises of healing, protection, and deliverance in scripture do not always come to pass in this life.  There are times that God chooses for His children to experience these promises in eternity, through death's door, at the end of life here on this earth.

If we have a healthy understanding of eternity and we trust that God always does what is right then this should not be shocking news.  The bible is full of not so pleasant endings for very faithful followers.  It is either ignorance or denial to believe or insist that all of God's promises always come to their full realization in this life.  That is why it is important to understand who we are placing our faith in.  That is why it is important to understand that to be a true, bible-believing Christian is to begin eternity now, while not experiencing it's fullness until we are with Jesus in heaven.

No Hope For The Dying
If you have not placed your trust in Jesus then THERE IS NO HOPE.   Ebola is the least of your concerns.  The symptoms I described above, at their most horrific, could not possibly compare to the eternal suffering that awaits you in Hell.  Without Jesus we are ALL condemned to the same fate. We will all face endless suffering for all eternity.

If you are picking and choosing what scriptures to believe and apply, you are in danger.  If you believe in a God that will not ask you to deny yourself, crucify your flesh, take up your cross and follow Him, then you are in danger(Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23).  If you are putting your trust in any of the good that you do, up to and including religious rituals, attendance of church or membership in any given denomination, then you are in danger.

You are already dying.  You are already headed for an eternity apart from God.  Ebola is just one means by which all hope could be lost for redemption...if it kills you in your faithless, unrepentant state.  There are so many in this state.  So many, living for themselves and trusting in a lie.  Trusting in a God made in man's image rather than the Biblical God in whose image all of man is made.

The Blessed Hope
There is one God, Maker of Heaven and Earth.  He is holy and cannot abide sin.  He will punish impenitent sinners justly at the judgement.  This same God is also a loving Father who sent His sinless Son to take the punishment for our sins so that we could find redemption in Him.

This Son willingly came, lived a perfect life of obedience and died a horrible death on the cross.  Not only was His physical death horrendous, but He experienced, in the spirit, the righteous wrath of the Father that was due every sinner.  This, so that everyone who believes in the saving power of the Son's sacrifice and submits to His Lordship will be saved from that wrath.

The purpose of this salvation can be found in many places in scripture but I am inclined toward Titus 2:11-13.  Here Paul is writing to Titus, a Pastor whom Paul put into place at the church in Crete.  He states, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed  hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."

Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that we are saved by grace, through faith, unto good works.

Peace Everlasting
If this God, who does not save you for your own happiness and purposes, but for His purposes and His glory, is the God in whom you have placed your faith; then you you are believing in the God of the Bible.  You are surrendered to His will and trusting in His righteousness, rather than your own, for your eternity.

If this is the case then Christ in you is the hope of glory(Colossians 1:27).  You need not fear Ebola or death because your life is eternal and will be made whole in Christ at the last day.  No matter how much suffering we endure now, it will not compare to the glory that will be revealed at the second coming of Christ.  God knows all the plans that He has for you and your family so you can trust Him with your life and theirs.  You and all in your household whom believe will know everlasting peace.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus, now is the time.  It does not matter if you have rejected this teaching one hundred times or if this is your first time hearing it, the truth remains the same. Romans 10:9-13 tells us that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead that we will be saved.  It goes on to point out that God does not discriminate between nationalities(or degrees of sinful offense), but that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Find Joy
So call on Him.  Cry out to Him to save you.  Place your faith in Christ.  Surrender your will to His. He will never leave you, nor forsake you(Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5)  Though your sins be as red as scarlet, He will wash you white as snow(Isaiah 1:18).  You will not have to live under the condemnation of sin any longer.  You will be able to enjoy life in the spirit.(Romans 8:1-2)

You can be delivered from your suffering.  Whether you suffer physically, emotionally, or psychologically you can be delivered.  Suffering in this life is momentary and light compared to the eternal joys that are to come(2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

You see our joy in this life is not found in a perfect life, free from suffering or conflict.  While we will sometimes experience victory in this life over suffering and conflict, it is not promised in every case.  No, our joy comes from the eternal promises.  The promises that no matter how many challenges we face this side of eternity, when Jesus returns; He will wipe away every tear from your eye and death shall be no more.  Neither shall there be any mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things will have passed away(Revelation 21:4).

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Above all these other benefits is the infinite value of having relationship with God himself.  So great a relationship that if all these other benefits of salvation did not exist,


So don't fear Ebola, death, suffering or any other trial this world has to offer.  Trust in Jesus and then rest in His peace.  For God's word say's that for those who are in Him, "neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation , will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."(Romans 8:38-39)

Now Celebrate!!!

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