Over the last few weeks we have heard about, learned about, and tried not to think too much about the disease known as Ebola. From claiming hundreds upon hundreds of lives in West Africa to popping up in the United States, Ebola has become a household word. And while I am washing my hands and keeping my distance from anyone who does not look quite well, my thoughts have also dwelt on the other major illnesses in our world. Every year people in our country die from the flue. Cancer seems to be everywhere. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease, as relatives are forced to watch their loved one’s mind slowly fade. I’ll admit that there are days when I am tempted to dwell in fear of what might happen. But as a Christian, I must take my lead from the only authoritative and sufficient source that I have: the Word of God. Let’s get a quick perspective on a dangerous fear.
- Disease is inevitable. God didn’t make things the way we see them now. No, He made everything, and He made it good (Gen. 1:31). Everything met His standards of perfection. But then came the rebellion. Mankind fell, disobeyed, placed their confidence in themselves, and turned from the One who had given them life. The result? Chaos, sin, problems of every sort (Romans 1:18-32; 8:22-23). And with those problems? Disease, illness, and disasters.Even though we know where the problem of illness comes from, the fear of it can still remain. In fact, it can make it worse! This wasn’t supposed to happen! We can add to that the fact that sickness is pervasive (it affects so many areas of our lives). It takes an emotional toll as well, as we struggle through treatments and the fear of an uncertain future. Finally, sickness can have financial consequences as well. Insurance is good, but not perfect, and bills can pile up, adding to an already stressful situation.
- Disease affects the righteous and the wicked. Think of the numerous examples of major illness dealt with in scripture:* Naaman (2 Kings 5:1)
* Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:27)
* Job (Job 2:7-8)
* Lazarus (John 11:1)
* Asa (1 Kings 15:23)
* Dorcas (Acts 9:36-41)
* Jehoram (2 Chron. 21:15)
- So, on a practical level, how can believers deal with the fear of illness?
*Control your mind (2 Tim. 1:7; 2 Cor. 10:4-5) by interacting with the truth of God’s Word. Spend time meditating on texts such as 1 John 4. Scripture gives the genuine perspective of the world around. Yes, it is scary, and yes, Ebola and other things are very real threats. But there is a God Who is sovereign in the affairs of men and Who never makes a mistake. He is sovereign AND He is good. We can rest in that, no matter what may come.
* Count your blessings (1 Thess. 5:16-18)by recording the blessings you encounter this week. It is a proven fact that what we focus on, meditate on, and dwell on affects our emotions, spirit, and even plays into our physical health. If we will stop and think about things from a biblical perspective, we will realize that we have been blessed with far more than we could ever expect from this life as those who have rebelled against a Holy God.
* Continue your work (Eph. 2:10) by making a list of the ways you can work for the advancement of the Kingdom even when you feel your worst.
When sickness is around us and hard times come, it is very easy for us to turn our gaze inward and begin to focus only on self. This is not how we are called to live! Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we were created in Christ to do good works. That verse doesn’t qualify that calling on our lives by excluding the sin or disabled. Now, each one’s potential service to others is going to look a little different based on circumstances and situations, but let’s keep our focus turned to what God would have us do with the time we have, rather than worrying about what might or might not ever happen!
* Consider your future (Rom. 8:18) by praying that God will help you keep an eternal perspective in the midst of sickness and suffering
If you are a born-again Christian, you have been promised something that is beyond your wildest dreams- a place in a new heaven and a new earth with Him for all eternity. And just in case we get our heads mixed up and don’t think that Heaven could ever be as good as our life here, He tells us in Romans 8 that we can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like. Now, this is not easy, because our hearts so easily get tied to the things of this world, but if we could begin to see with eyes that look to eternity, this life gets put sharply into perspective.
If you walk in relationship with Jesus Christ, you have no reason to fear anything that this life can throw at you, and that includes Ebola. Let’s rest in the only reliable source of authority and comfort that we have- the very Word of God.