In the nineteenth century men lost their fear of God and acquired a fear of microbes. ~Author Unknown*
One headline about a deadly viral threat helps me breathe easier – Dozens in Dallas considered at risk freed from Ebola monitoring. Then I learn that one mosquito has been found to be a carrier of the West Nile virus in a neighborhood not too far from here.
In the words of Charley Brown: “Good Grief”
Ebola and West Nile virus conjure feelings like a shroud of suffering and death is about to descend – surely I will see people dropping like flies! (Myself among them!)
Yet, when I calm myself down, and read, I see even bigger killers – flu, car crashes and skin cancer! (NYT: Scarier than Ebola) Moreover, their power may be reined in with getting a shot, using a seat belt, and applying a sun block. Alas, simply washing our hands after using gas pump, grocery shopping, or going to the bathroom is still not a universal practice! (People's Pharmacy -- We all Need to Wash our Hands!)
(But shame on me for even looking at my phone when driving -- Six Times more Dangerous than Drinking)
We are too often our own worst enemies! The invisible enemies, detected only by a microscope, terrorize us as relentlessly as our own willfulness, and Islamic radicalism.
When triplets of terror rob me of sleep, I look comfort in Scripture. Word to the wise – Amos is a sobering place to start – Damascus and Gaza, war-torn sites in today’s news, were in the prophet’s sight too. Then he sees Judah, and Israel, and the disaster seems as inescapable as a pandemic, or holy war. His prophecies did not soothe my fears, I have to tell you! The Lord’s plans he saw were not for prosperity or peace! Just a tiny verse comforted, here and there:
Be good, flee evil—and live! Then the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will truly be your Helper, as you have claimed he is. Hate evil and love the good; remodel your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Hosts will have mercy on his people who remain. (Amos 5:14-15, The Living Bible)
Easier said than done in these crazy days when everybody demands freedom to do as they please.
Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of the Beatitudes is like a cup of cold water:
5 1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Christ Jesus gave His disciples real help how to live in uncertain times – when we are at the end of our rope, brokenhearted, scared, confused, conflicted and persecuted. He is a drink of cold clean water.
19 Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer. 20 Will you permit a corrupt government to rule under your protection—a government permitting wrong to defeat right? 21-22 Do you approve of those who condemn the innocent to death? No! The Lord my God is my fortress—the mighty Rock where I can hide. 23 God has made the sins of evil men to boomerang upon them! He will destroy them by their own plans. Jehovah our God will cut them off. (Psalm 94:19-23Living Bible TLB)