I have a joke about Ebola. You probably won’t get it.
In truth, Ebola is no laughing matter. People that get it often die. About 50% of the 8000 recent cases, mainly in West Africa, have been fatal. Dr. Martin Sallia died Monday morning after returning to the States where his family resides for treatment. He was serving Ebola victims in Sierra Leone in response to God’s call.
Should we be alarmed? Should we shut the back door to infected Americans who want in?
Jesus put a face on God, and it was a face of compassion. He said, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). That mercy was to be extended even to enemies. Mercy has several opportunities now:
- Scripture encourages giving to the poor and needy. One reason for the spread of Ebola in Africa is the poor conditions. Dr. Arthur Caplan at the New York University Medical Center and founding head of Bioethics wrote,
“The harsh ethical truth is the Ebola epidemic happened because few people in the wealthy nations of the world cared enough to do anything about it.”
Thank God for ministries like World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse that respond immediately to horrific problems around the world. Our prayers and gifts keep such ministries working. They are the hands and feet of a compassionate God.
- Bring Americans home. They risked their lives for the dying. Do we let them die in less than optimum conditions? It is not the same risk as in Africa. We have highly sanitary conditions, and it is unlikely that Ebola will get out of control in the States. A friend in the medical field is a point person for Ebola in the Twin Cities. She said that the Department of Health calls travelers from West Africa twice daily for twenty-one days. Point: It is being taken seriously in the States!
I respect conservative commentator Ben Carson, who spoke strongly (as did Donald Trump) about providing care for Americans, but not on American soil. Such action would be unthinkable in the military. We never leave the wounded behind. These are kingdom soldiers. And it has proved not the threat many feared.
- Don’t call it God’s judgment. Even if it were, a hands-off policy would not reflect mercy. Jesus reached out to lepers caught in a society that did not know much about either its cause or its cure. We must not be quick to label catastrophes as the judgment of God, even though God judges in history and in its climax. The world desperately needs to know more about God’s love than His judgment. It is His goodness that leads men to repentance, not His wrath. When His wrath is poured out at the end of time, people will not repent. They will call for the rocks to crush then rather than an all-powerful God. For now, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
- The cause behind this epidemic is cause and effect—poverty, poor health conditions, strange funeral practices, and ignorance. Add to that corrupt government that cares more for its own wealth than its world—and you have Ebola.
- Jesus said, “Go!” We continue to reach out to the nations. We cry out for mothers who throw babies into the river to appease an angry God. It is the missionaries who are largely responsible for raising the level of life in developing countries. They gave themselves to build schools, churches, hospitals, wells, and to teach healthcare and sanitation. God has a bias for the broken. We preach about a God who not only saves from sin but teaches us how to treasure life and live wisely. Thank God for Christians who care for the poor.