Fill Up the Bowls! One Christian Response to Ebola

by Andy Wood on October 20, 2014

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Hoarders, Life Currency, Love, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Money, Principle of Eternity

Ebola

(Or whatever has us in a panic today)

The headlines are curious today, after weeks of holding us hostage over a disease that Americans steadfastly wish to remain somebody else’s problem.  “COMPASSION URGED IN DALLAS AS EBOLA MONITORING ENDS” says the USA Today headline.

Who is this compassion aimed for?

People who don’t have the disease.

So why do they need compassion?

Because at one time we were afraid they may have it.

But after 21 days of having their lives quarantined while the politicians, media, talk radio and social media had everybody in a frenzy, now the science says, they don’t have it.  Meanwhile, two nurses who were doing their jobs caring for the one person who has died from the disease in the U.S. now are fighting the virus, and we pray for their healing and recovery.

In the meantime, Dallas, please be kind to people you may otherwise want to avoid like the you-know-what.  It’s the American thing to do.

Ebola… sheesh!  Even the name sounds evil.  Picture the most evil pirate or witch voice, drawling out the name of this terrible virus with menace or terror in their voices.   And when we’re confronted with something terror-inducing or frenzy-creating, the responses can be predictable…

The politicians pick sides and posture.  The President needs to appoint a czar to oversee this, the critics hollered last week. So he did, creating his 39th “czar” office, and now they’re hollering at who he picked.  Of course they are!  An election’s on the horizon, for crying out loud.

The preachers (at least some of them) declare that the epidemic is an expression of God’s judgment on the world.  Okay, well, rather than get offended by that, I’ll just say either they’re right or they’re wrong – either way make sure you’re in God’s will and move on.

The professional victim-mongers of the world will look for evidence of their pet issues and holler about them.  Travel ban to West Africa?  You’re being a racist.  Disease in Texas?  See!  I told you we need to secure the borders!

And everybody, it seems, is looking for a way to make or raise money.  We need your help!  Give today!  Or buy our newspaper… we have the most terrifying coverage! I figure any day now somebody on Facebook will be coming up with the Barf Bag Challenge for Ebola or something.

But is there a Christian thing to do in a suffering and terrified world?  If scripture is true that they will know we are his disciples by the love we extend and that without faith it is impossible to please God, how should followers of Christ respond?  After all, what if this isn’t God’s judgment on the world, but God’s test of His own children?

Other people have written on this including this from America’s “Ground Zero” and this.  Here are my thoughts for your consideration and prayer.

Ground Zero Compassion

Caring for the sick and dying, even at the risk of our own health and lives, isn’t just noble or heroic. It is one of the most vivid demonstrations of our character according to no less than Jesus Christ Himself.

It is here that early Christians first established a global name for themselves, although that wasn’t their first intention.  In the early fourth century, when the plague hit the city of Caesarea and people were fleeing the disease by literally abandoning their own household members to die alone, the Christians stayed behind.  Under the leadership of Eusebius, these believers tended all day long to the dying and their burial – often with no family or friends present.  Others organized food distribution.  Eusebius stated that because of their compassion in the plague, their “deeds were on everyone’s lips, and they glorified the God of the Christians. Such actions convinced them that they alone were pious and truly reverent to God.”

 If he was right, then may I ask how many people have been reverent to the God of the Christians because of the compassion you have shown?

Nimble Generosity

Christians recognize that our wealth is not in this world anyway, but the next.  We who have been given much must beware of the danger of covetousness.

What, you may ask, does that have to do with a deadly disease outbreak?  Everything, if your driving motive is money or wealth preservation.  When issues or opportunities arise to show the love of Christ and money can be the vehicle to do so, then give generously to places like Samaritan’s Purse or others who are waging a frontline war in your stead.

Thoughtful Reflection

Crises like this have a way of calling us to spend a little time being reminded of what matters most in this life.  Words like “quarantine” and “public safety” reflect conflicting values of relationship vs. fear.  It’s easy to take relationships or other blessings for granted until you are cut off completely from them.

This is also a good time for perspective, as many worldwide health professionals have tried to offer lately.  Right after John 3:16, please memorize these words:

MEDIA ATTENTION DISTORTS EVERYTHING.

Everything?

Everything.

For some medical perspective, take a look at these statistics. I got them from a friend on Facebook, so I can attest to their accuracy:

Worldwide infectious disease stats:
Lower respiratory infections – 33.8 million cases/year -2.8 million deaths/year
Malaria – 350-550 million cases per year – 1.24million deaths/year
HIV/AIDS – 35.3 million cases – 1.6 million deaths/year
Tuberculosis – 8.8 million cases – 1.3 million deaths/year
Cholera – 3.5 million cases – 100,000 deaths/year
Ebola – 10,000 cases since 1976 – 5,000 deaths since 1976

U.S. Statistics
Lower respiratory infections – 137,000 deaths/year
Flu and Pneumonia – 53,000 deaths/year
Texting while driving – 6,000 deaths/year
Falling out of bed – 450 deaths/year
Dog Attacks – 34 deaths/year
Vending Machines – 13 deaths/year
Roller Coasters – 4 deaths/year
Ebola – 3 cases, 1 death – ever

Does that mean we ignore danger and do nothing?  No.  See the previous sections on compassion and generosity.  It does mean, however, that perhaps the president should appoint a vending machine death czar.  I mean, seriously!

Faith-fed Courage

The next person you meet in public – particularly if he or she is a stranger – could be a silent carrier of a deadly virus.  ANY virus.

Now you can choose to live in fear and isolation, or you can choose to risk embracing your fellow man, knowing he or she could be your silent killer, but choosing to embrace him or her anyway.  Since God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and clear thinking, don’t you think that would be the best demonstration – and source – of courage you can imagine?

Extraordinary Prayer

Prayer most of all.  Prayer for a cure. Prayer for healing. Prayer for safety – not just yours, but throughout the world.  It amazes me that we take public crises as opportunities first to express fear and alarm, then as avenues through which to bash our political opponents, then of course, in organizational circles, to raise money.  But we don’t simply ask God to change it.  To fix or heal it.

The book of Revelation records a remarkable scene that takes place in heaven in which certain events on earth were anticipated, but were blocked from happening.  The language used was that no one was found worthy to break the seven seals and open a book, or scroll.  Then John says he wept loudly and bitterly because no one was found worthy, until someone called his attention to the Lamb, standing as if slain, who was found worthy.

As the Lamb ascends the throne and takes the book, this happens:

and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints) (Revelation 5:8).

The Lamb has always been worthy.  But those bowls haven’t always been full.  The picture I get is that filling the bowls with the prayers of the saints leverages the Lamb to take authority to move events forward on earth.

What if the Berlin Wall fell because finally enough people called on God to tear it down that the bowl was full, and in 1991 he said, “OK…. tear it down?”  What if desired world events don’t happen because we didn’t ask God to move heaven and earth to make it happen?  What if God is just waiting for Christians to call on His name enough to “fill up the bowls” – then has the answer ready?

When we pray about world events, we are declaring that Jesus is worthy to “break the seals” related to those events, and to exercise His Lordship over them.

Fill up the bowls, friends.  It’s time to declare that the Lamb is worthy to break the seals and ask Him to stop a terrible disease – or whatever else may have us in panic mode – in its tracks.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jessica Riggs October 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

I enjoyed the article, Mr. Wood. The Ground Zero Compassion part reminded me of one of my favorite people, Mother Teresa, who picked up lepers off the streets of India and cared for them with love and compassion without a concern for her own well being because of her faith in God. The hysteria surrounding Ebola is distracting us from loving others.

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