The World Health Organization has raised the level of the swine flu alert to level 5, just below the highest possible level of 6. At present, the center of this epidemic is Mexico, but many states in the United States have registered cases of this dreaded disease. Beyond Mexico and the United States, chief concentrations are found in Canada, Spain, and several other European countriesEngland, France, Germany, and others.
The principal concern now is to contain the disease before it becomes a pandemic and travels around the world. The Spanish flu of 1918-1919 killed about 20 million people until it died out. This included a half million Americans. If you visit older cemeteries as I have, you will notice the many graves with the 1918 date inscribed on the headstones, testifying to the fatal results of this historic plague. The Asian flu of 1957-1958 also affected the entire world with an epidemic. The Hong Ling flu of 1968-1969 also had worldwide effects. Leaders of the affected countries are diligently seeking to avoid such a disaster in our day.
All of this present influenza outbreak caught people unaware and unprepared. Swine flu seemed like a remote possibility, but surely not a present crisis that would affect our personal lives. Yesterday, the decision was made to shut down the Fort Worth school system and lock the doors to 80,000 students for a week and a half. The maintenance department, nurses, and administrators plan to disinfect the classrooms to prevent the spread of this mysterious malady. Vice-president Biden has recommended keeping away from mass transportation to lower the possibility of the transmission of this alarming disease.
We should always relate present situations, events, and phenomena to God and His Word. This present crisis has several lessons for us, as Christians. First, we really dont know what tomorrow may bring. Neither you nor I could have predicted how this unknown disease would affect our country and other nations in the world community. Perhaps many of us will contract this disease; some may survive without much of an affect, while others may fall to pneumoniaor worse.
The Word of God warns: Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). We need to arise every morning and commit the day to the Lord, knowing that unknown dangers lurk before us, ones that are known only to God. James says, You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4:14). He then says that we ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that (v. 15). Let us realize that all kinds of dangers may lie before us, including the swine flu virus, but with Gods help we can face it all.
Second, just as the swine flu took us by surprise, so also Christs return will come unexpectedly. Paul warns us of this: You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, Peace and safety! then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). Jesus also declared, Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming (Matthew 24:42). While the world will be caught unprepared, we believers should be looking with anticipation for our Lords return in power and glory.
Third, people of the world may dread the threat of contracting this contagious virus called swine flu, but true Christians know that we are in the hands of a loving and caring Father who will care for us. He doesnt promise that we will avoid all illness or disease, but He says that He will be with us at all times, including walking with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We can cast all of our anxiety upon God for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Finally, now is the time for true believers to speak a word of confidence to neighbors and friends. While some of them may be terrified at the prospect of falling prey to this illness, we can affirm that we have a loving Father who will be with us even if we do succumb to the flu. They need to know that God makes a difference in ones life and how he views the tragedies of life. Let us also be prepared to help and care for any who may catch the flu, thereby showing the love and compassion that God places in our heart (Galatians 5:22-23).
Let us beware of the present threat of swine flu, but let it also stimulate us to look at things as He would want and find spiritual lessons in the midst of this crisis.