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A Sickness Worse Than Ebola

For the past two weeks, my Facebook feed has been littered with updates about the Ebola virus. Some people are afraid it’s going to spread, while others are saying it won’t. Some are saying the government isn’t protecting us well enough, and a few are just cracking clever Ebola jokes.

All the angst about Ebola highlights a deeper sickness in our hearts, a sickness that can’t be cured with any antiviral drug. We are infected with a deep fear of death and paralyzed by our lack of trust in God.

“Do not worry,” Jesus said. “Who of you, by being worried, can add a single hour to his life?”

Jesus said those words for a good reason. He knew that all of us wrestle with fear. All of us lie awake at times and imagine monsters in our closet and outside our door. We see the shadow of death lurking at the threshold of our lives, and our fear turns to terror. Our terror turns us inward, to the point that all we care about is self-preservation.

Jesus warned us about fear, and his disciples repeated the warning over and over again (Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 John 4:18). Why? Because fear drives us to the kind of selfishness that prevents us from caring about other people. Fear focuses our attention on what we cannot control and we lose sight of what matters.

Worst of all, fear makes us forget the power of God. Fear drove Abraham to lie about his wife Sarah, even though he knew that God was stronger than Pharaoh. Fear drove Moses to argue with God, even when he saw God’s presence in the burning bush. Fear drove the Israelites to harden their hearts and worship idols, right after they saw Him part the Red Sea and drown the Egyptians.

When we allow fear to have free reign in our hearts and minds, the result is devastating to our walk with God.

I wrestle with anxiety sometimes, and on my worst days it dominates my heart and mind. All of the “what ifs” add up and threaten to drown out God’s voice. What’s terrible is that my worst fears center on things I cannot control. Fear makes me small-minded and mean. I find myself snapping at my kids and growing angry with my co-workers. Fear is a terrorist, and it’s always plotting a coup. If we allow it, fear will take over and eject God’s goodness from our hearts.

If Ebola terrifies you, I have bad news and good news. Here’s the bad news: if Jesus doesn’t come back in the next few years, we’re all going to die. Maybe we will die of Ebola. More likely it will be something else. Some other disease, or an accident, or just old age. What’s even worse news is that the United States government can’t stop it. Every American will die, just like every African and everybody everywhere. You and I are already dying because of Adam’s sin and our own.

But here’s the good news: The God who parted the Red Sea and knocked down the walls of Jericho is the same God who raised His Son from the dead. That means that death is not the last word. Even if we die from a terrible virus, death cannot win. Every person connected to Jesus through faith will rise again and reign with Him.

Christians ought to be the bravest men and women in the world. Instead of locking the doors, we’re called to open them up and share the good news. Death is overcome. No fear can destroy us forever.

Instead of praying to the government, we pray to the God who rules the universe. He alone can overcome disease and death and bring us life that never ends. Governments and doctors are helpful to a point, but they cannot ultimately stop death. Only God can do that.

What is the antidote to the fear that paralyzes our hearts? Steep yourself in the Word of God. Read and remember the stories of His power. Set up a memorial stone in your heart so that you will not forget, an ebenezer to remind you of all He’s done and all He’s yet to do. He will not abandon his people to death.

We are called to be brave. We are called to pray for those who are suffering and help them in their pain. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, knowing that He risked death and exposure to all of our troubles. He incarnated Himself and entered our mess, determined to save us. He calls us to model His incarnation, to love others and pray for them, and to refuse to be paralyzed with fear.

There is a sickness worse than Ebola, and it’s called terror. There’s also a cure, and its name is resurrection.

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