How should Christians respond to Ebola? I believe God’s people should follow medical protocols, but remember that we are to trust God. I watched the breaking news this weekend as my city and country was informed that a healthcare worker who had cared for the Ebola patient, Thomas Duncan, had contracted the disease. We had almost reached the deadline for concern over further contamination when the news came out. Now, the countdown begins again. Who did she have contact with? Where did she shop? Will her dog be a carrier of the disease? There are lots of news reports, pictures and doctor’s advice available to those who have concerns. I wish more cameras were focused on the person who I think has the best advice.
Kent Brantly is the doctor who was flown to Emory Hospital in Atlanta and has survived Ebola. Dr. Brantly was a Samaritan’s Purse missionary from Texas and recently spoke at Abilene Christian University, sharing his personal experience with the disease. He talked about the “hysteria that surrounded the events in Dallas” and compared it to the reality of the disease in Africa.
Brantly also said, “You’ve seen the news reports, and I can assure you, the reality on the ground in West Africa is worse than the worst report you’ve seen. And our attention and efforts need to be on loving the people there.” Those words hit close to home for me. I have watched the reports about the people in Africa, and I had no idea how truly awful the outbreak had become. I really didn’t pay close enough attention to the Ebola crisis until Brantly and his coworker, Nancy Writebol, were diagnosed. We now have our second case of Ebola here in Dallas and it leads every news cast in America.
When I heard about the nurse’s home that was being cleaned and quarantined, I looked at the address on a map and was truly bothered when I realized that members of my family live only blocks away and probably shop at the same Trader Joe’s. As I sit typing this essay, I realize that I don’t love others like I love my own — even though I know God has called me to love like he does.
How does God want Christians to respond? What should we be learning from Ebola? I can’t help but think of the plagues that came to Egypt when Pharaoh refused to allow Moses to take the Israelites from the land. Each plague was the result of God’s warning being ignored. The final plague became known as the Passover. Those who were protected by the blood on the door frame, those who followed God’s leadership, were saved.
I am teaching the Minor Prophets this year and I can honestly say I have more questions than answers as I study. God does not change. God still wants to protect his people but he cannot bless what is against his word and will. John Piper was asked if God still judges nations, and if he does will America be judged? The Christian Post article was interesting and Piper shared these three thoughts:
First, God is portrayed in the Bible as sovereign over the nations and ruling them for His purposes. Second, God tolerates sin in relation to nations up to a point, and then brings calamity. Third, the Bible also mentions the kinds of iniquity God has in mind when He says, “the wickedness of these nations.”
Piper then spoke about the sins of the West that would necessitate God’s judgment. He said, “In the West, we have moved to the point of open approval of adultery, child-killing (abortion), and homosexual intercourse.” Piper went on to say that what Christians found appalling fifty years ago is readily accepted now as a norm.
The single truth that I have found woven through each of the Minor Prophets is that God brought judgment on a nation, even his own Israel, when people began to tolerate sin rather than repent. I think most Christians who understand God’s character and believe the Bible are worried about this country and its culture.
How should Christians respond to a plague? Piper said, “history is not a straight line of inevitabilities, God himself may step in and bring to His church a great revival of radical obedience, and a great awakening to the countries of the West. He is able. He has done it before. We should pray that He does.”
God wants us to love and care for those who are hurting, everywhere in the world. It isn’t enough to simply care about our own country and our own citizens. God wants us to pray, to repent, to preach and to teach the truth of his word. God will not bless what he cannot bless. God wants to bless all that he can. We need to follow medical protocol but we need to trust God. God wants to protect our country. How will God’s people make our country “blessable?” If MY people, who are called by MY name will . . . (2 Chronicles 7:14). I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m sure that God’s people will make the difference.