I grew up loving my country. I enjoyed reading books about the Founding Fathers and other great American heroes. How accurate they were, I don’t know. I’m sure there was a fair share of legend (i.e. George Washington and the cherry tree), but it was the spirit of them that I remember. Stories of brave men and women who faced daunting circumstances with courage and resolve, oblivious to their own safety and security, captured my imagination and made me feel proud to be an American.
In public school (where I checked many of those books out of the library) we sang patriotic songs in music class and recited the Pledge of Allegiance regularly. National holidays, such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, further stirred my patriotism.
And now? It’s natural for people to grow pessimistic and cynical as they grow older, and despite any desire to not be a grumpy old guy, I find myself increasingly following that pattern.
I’ve watched politicians let me down—nothing new about that! I’ve learned that those heroes of the past were, at best, flawed humans, and at worst, total losers. I’ve learned more sordid facts about our national past than I care to know.
Yet through it all, we’ve been a country that has tried really hard to get it right. We fought our bloodiest war in part to put an end to the scourge of slavery. Those flawed leaders have struggled to right societal wrongs. Our system of government has yet to be improved upon by anyone this side of Heaven. And the American people have remained fundamentally decent. Willing to fight, sacrifice, and suffer for what we believe is right; always willing to lend a hand to those in need.
The result has been a spectacular run of peace and prosperity, where even those in poverty are considered rich by the standards of much of the rest of the planet.
But sadly, human nature makes it hard to maintain those high standards in the midst of comfort. There’s been an undeniable deterioration of our national character about which one could write volumes.
But nothing has dramatized this as much as the early months of the year 2020.
After vague reports of a mysterious illness in China, it’s as if one day the media moguls of America got together and said, “This is our new crisis. Whip the people into a frenzy of fear! Pound it into them around the clock.”
Suddenly, we found ourselves inundated by ominous reports of a coming tsunami of destruction. How did we respond?
We panicked. Running for cover as if a proverbial mass shooter was on the loose, we cowered in our homes, scared to death of The Virus. Without question and without hesitation, we surrendered our God-given rights. Freedom of Assembly? Naw, we don’t need it. Liberty? An unnecessary luxury.
Despite relying on projections of deaths caused by The Virus that were so flawed as to be laughable, we continued to defer to the “experts,” happily surrendering the most prosperous economy in American history to the throes of a Depression in mere days.
If anyone dare question this reaction, we were quick to pounce on them, accusing them of not caring about lives. “People are gonna die!” We screamed, red in the face. “If we save just one life, it’s worth it,” we chanted in monotonous repetition.
Imagine if you will, if our forerunners acted like we are today.
The Pilgrims, desiring a life where they were free to worship and live as they pleased, when confronted with the perils of a transatlantic voyage in the early 1600s, would declare, “It’s just too dangerous. People are gonna die if we do this!” If any suggested doing it anyway, they’d be shamed with, “How many dead pilgrims are you okay with?”
John Adams, standing up before the Continental Congress, would’ve given a speech something like this: “Gentlemen, while the destruction of our liberties by the King are terrible, and we groan under this oppression, yearning to live free, many people will die if we oppose the British. They’ve already sent thousands of troops over here, and they have a whole fleet in New York Harbor! There may well be innocent civilians who lose their lives! And, were we so audacious as to declare independence, those of us in this very chamber would be wanted for treason and executed if caught. It’s just not worth it! In the interest of public safety and security, I must implore you to stay home, follow orders, and stay safe.”
Harriet Tubman, after alighting on the idea of smuggling Southern slaves to freedom in the North, would suffer PTSD as a result of even entertaining the thought of what might happen were she, or those she helped, to be caught. “It’s just not worth it,” she’d cry. “People may suffer and even die if I go through with this!” At least slaves were safe and taken care of on the plantations, provided they mind their manners and do what the master says.
Woodrow Wilson, when confronted with the sinking of the Lusitania and the discovery of the Zimmerman Telegram, would adjust his glasses and speak to the American People: “I know many of you are outraged by these German atrocities; much of France lies in ruins; and an entire generation of young men from our allies have perished; but at this time our troops need to stay on lockdown, because there’s a global pandemic! Were it not for the Spanish Flu, we’d rush to the aid of our friends, but it’s just too risky. We need to slow the spread, or people will die!”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaking to Congress the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, would grip the podium and declare: “Yesterday--December 7th, 1941--a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan….there’s no doubt that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. So with the input of qualified experts, I’m instituting a national plan to sandbag all our residences. We will be passing out sandbags, sand, and shovels. The military will be dispatched to help make your homes safe from enemy attacks. There are some who say we must fight the Japanese and Germans, but a lotof people would die, and that’s unacceptable. It’s better to run and save just one life, than fight back and have a bunch of our precious people die!”
What would these and others who came before us think if they saw us now?
“Fear is poison in combat. Something we all felt but you just didn’t show it. You can’t. It’s destructive, and it’s contagious.”
– Sgt. Carwood Lipton, 506thPIR, 101st Airborne Division, Quoted in Band of Brothers
The times we’re living in now has surpassed the fall of 2001 as the weirdest I’ve ever experienced. There’s so much I could editorialize about what’s happening globally right now, but I feel the need to address the Christians. If you aren’t a Christian, I hope you’ll say yes to Jesus!
Never before have I seen not only rampant fear, but unbridled panic. I can understand people without God freaking out. What hope do they have? Only vague wishes that somehow things will work out. Not much comfort in the face of such dark fear.
Thankfully, many of my fellow believers have been admonishing people to “fear not!”
But why shouldn’t we fear? The circumstances are scary.
Is our only advantage the hope that God will muddle through along with us through the misery, but someday, in the sweet by and by, we’ll get to go to heaven, and then everything will be happy?
I believe we have a lot of good reasons to fear not! I believe that because I’ve seen it in the Bible, and I can’t un-see it. I had a hard time believing some of these things at first, but I’m learning to trust Him more and more.
I’m not scared of any pandemic. Why? Here’s just a few reasons:
Psalm 91, especially verses 5-7, and 9-11. “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the LORD, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…”
How can I cower in fear if I believe that?
“But what if I (or someone I love) gets sick?”
The entire Bible has good news on that front!
In Isaiah 53, verses 11 and 12, we read a prophecy about Jesus which says he’ll bear (carry away) our sins. Moments earlier, in verse 4, the prophet tells us he bore (same word in Hebrew as above) our “infirmities,” which refers to “sickness, illness, suffering, and disease.” (Don’t take my word for it—look it up!) This is followed by the famous verse 5: “By his stripes we are healed.”
These verses are referenced twice in the New Testament in regards to the work of Jesus (Matt 8:17, and I Peter 2:24).
But wait, there’s more!
James 5:15 says the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. Notice the condition for healing isn’t whether or not it’s God’s will, it’s whether or not the prayer is offered in faith. If you don’t like it, take it up with Him—I didn’t write it!
We follow Jesus Christ, right? He said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6:38) He also said he does what he sees the Father do (John 5:19).
So, just what did Jesus do? Healed every person who ever came to him for healing! He never said “No” to anyone! In fact, God never said no to anyone who sought him for healing in the whole Bible! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Furthermore, he never said, “It’s not my timing—maybe later.” Or “Sorry, but you have sin in your life,” or “Sorry, you don’t have enough faith,” etc.
We believe the part in “The Great Commission” where Jesus tells His disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt. 28:19) I think the Church has done an outstanding job of that. But what about the second half of His sentence? “…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (verse 20) In Matt. 10:8, He commanded His disciples to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Doesn’t that count?
So why isn’t everyone healed? I don’t know, but far be it from me to devise a theology based on my experiences and disappointments, rather than what I’ve seen in the Book.
Ask yourself: If Jesus walked into a room full of sick people, what would He do? Then consider that He’s actually God, and you’ll see where He stands on the issue.
I’m not suggesting we deny reality. Even though we trust God, we’re still IN the world, and can still be affected by the situation (anyone have any toilet paper I can use? Haha). Jesus said in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble.” But He doesn’t stop there! He immediately adds, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So even though we’re still affected by social distancing, economic realities, etc., we don’t have to be ruled by the global pandemic of fear.
Jesus said you must be like a child to believe. How about instead of stressing over a bunch of hysteria, we go to God and realize He actually gives us promises of protection and healing? Aren’t all His promises Yes and Amen? (2 Cor. 1:20)
I've included some old blogs along with the new. Should you ever find yourself suffering from insomnia, this is the place for you! That's as poetic as I get...