Join me as I try to think consistently and articulate freshly about life under the sun…
The Ebola crisis is a significant feature in the news. First coming to the world’s attention quietly and unobtrusively, the virus was originally identified by Belgian doctors. As is now common knowledge, developments in West Africa have precipitated global concern. Talk radio in the USA articulates just what an immense cause of concern it is to average Americans.
How should we think about this illness? Here are several lines of thought:
- Illness was never a part of the original creation. When our first parents triggered the entrance of sin into the world, several collateral developments took place, including burdensome toil, illness, agricultural challenges, a breakdown in relationships that were meant to be harmonious, and many other catastrophic elements.
- Illness, as horrible and unwelcome a feature of life as it is, drives us to think about our short time to be lived on this planet. Where to after this life? How can I be prepared for what comes next? Thankfully, God’s Word, the Bible, provides helpful answers.
- Illness ultimately is a temporary condition for those whose faith and hope is in the Redeemer. In the final state, there will be no more sin, sickness or sorrow.
Being better resourced to help people who are ill…
There are several resources that offer help to ordinary people who face the challenge of grappling with issues such as this. Below I mention five helpful resources:
Resource #1: Colin Mercer, Pastor of Faith Free Presbyterian Church, Greenville, South Carolina, preached a pertinent message entitled Ebola and the Bible. Pastor Mercer is a fine preacher, a faithful messenger, one who always applies the Bible with relevance. You could listen online at SermonAudio here or download the audio file. There is also a video of the sermon at the same URL.
Resource #2: J. C. Ryle, long ago the bishop of Liverpool, England, had a heart of compassion for his congregants. With his life spanning much of the nineteenth century, it is important to understand that medical care was not as easy to come by as it is today, and often people succumbed to illnesses that would have been easy to treat under our modern conditions. Ryle counseled people to pay attention to the urgent message of sickness to get into a right relationship with God. His book, Practical Religion, has a chapter which you may also read online here, simply entitled Sickness. I shared this with my father over eleven years ago as he lay on his death bed, and I believe it may have helped him to find the Savior of sinners.
Resource #3: My friend Brian Croft, pastor of a church near Louisville, KY, is the son of a medical doctor. When he was a boy, his dad would take him on house calls as he visited his patients. As a result, Brian learned sensitivity to people who are unwell. So it was natural that, when he entered the pastoral ministry, he had the background and skills to engage with people suffering ill health. I highly commend Brian’s blog, Practical Shepherding, and the excellent resources he offers.
Two other publications to think about and use are:
Resource #4: Help! I’m Living with Terminal Illness, a mini-book written by Reggie Weems, pastor of a church in eastern Tennessee. Here’s how the book is described:
We don’t find it easy to face death, and the diagnosis of a terminal illness can be devastating. Yet every life has an expiration date. Written with a pastor’s heart for those suffering with a terminal diagnosis and for their family and friends, this publication conveys practical advice, spiritual consolation, and, most importantly, an eternal hope which the dying process cannot diminish and death cannot extinguish.
Writing sensitively, Gerard demonstrates how facing the fact of death can be a big advantage and lead to personal blessing, once the initial shock of a diagnosed illness has passed. That is true also for those seeing a loved one suffer serious illness.
This, too, is available from Amazon.