Prudence, Please

The hullabaloo over the pandemic of COVID-19 is, as most things in the world of public interactions, one of extremes.

On one side of things the broad distrust of the media industry and suspicion of anything that could be seen as a political ploy results in apathy toward what is surely no more of a concern than the common flu. I can see that to some degree.

On the other side, there is the panic at the thought of this virus decimating our country and bringing our health care system and entire economy to ruin. The outrage toward those who don’t see this as a serious matter is, in some sense, understandable.

But, despite the many voices in the world telling us that theirs is the only reasonable perspective, there is a great deal of ground in between the extremes.

I’m not a scientist and I don’t pretend to know the medical ins and outs of this situation. What I do know is that this is not beyond the scope and application of biblical wisdom.

Twice in the book of Proverbs we read these words (prompted by the Spirit of God but delivered through one of the most wealthy men that ever lived):

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

Proverbs 22.3; 27.12

SO… let’s get straight to it. It is FOOLISH to go on as if it’s nothing. But it is also FOOLISH to move into a bubble and forsake the rest of the world. It is PRUDENT to pay attention and take reasonable precautions.

The problem, as a follower of Jesus, for either of these extremes is one of self-centeredness.

On the one hand, those who are hoarding toilet paper (which NO ONE has been able to explain to me) and sealing themselves inside their own homes and pulling their kids out of school or anything else that might bring them in potential conflict with the unwashed masses are reacting entirely out of fear. Fear almost never leads to wise decisions.

On the other hand, those who insist that this is just all a campaign of media hype and there is no cause for concern and thus will not so much as take advice on how long and thoroughly to wash their hands are reacting entirely out of arrogance. This also almost never leads to wise decisions.

But the bigger issue here is that the vast majority of us are NOT going to be the ones to be killed by this virus. It’s those precious folks whose bodies are already worn down by age or disease or other compromising condition that will fall to this illness.

It’s my hope-filled and rambunctious nephews that have had more heart surgery in the first few years of life than most of us could endure in a lifetime…

It’s the very dear folks that I know and love who, now into their nineties, have a depth of experience-informed praying for us that I can hardly bear to part with…

The reasonable precautions of prudence are not for me and probably not for you. They are to protect those who can’t fight this thing. Our panic will not help them. Our apathy won’t either. Our prudence may keep them from having to fight this particular battle.

I have to ask: If we can’t be counted on to be diligent to wash our hands for the sake of “the least of these,” what hope do we have of ever learning to wash their feet?

So please, my brothers and sisters, don’t panic.

Please, my brothers and sisters, don’t act like it’s not there.

Let’s be more concerned about protecting the weak among us than we are about our convenience or preference or comfort.

Surely when we’ve done such for the least of these, we have done so unto Jesus himself.

Please… It’s My Son

I’ve never had the terrifying experience of a child with a life-threatening illness or injury.

I can hardly imagine what I might do to find an answer—a cure or a procedure or a treatment.

I can imagine that I would have some hard, not-at-all-pretty prayer conversations with God. I expect most of them would not be deemed “Sunday-School Appropriate” by most standards.

I think that is the earnest longing captured some years back by Mark Schultz in his hauntingly beautiful song, “He’s My Son.” Take a minute to listen to the yearning within it.

You hear that longing, don’t you? You can hear that desperation and agonizing desire for the healing of the son. It’s the kind of desperation that would press a well-revered man, a leader in the community, to take off on foot to the village 15 miles or so down the road because he heard that Jesus, the man that healed so many people in Bethsaida and turned water to wine in Cana, had come back to the area.

15 miles.

On foot.

One way.

That’s desperation.

[Read John 4.43-54]

After a couple of days spent in the Samaritan village of Sychar, Jesus finally made it back over into Galilee, where he had grown up. It was a strange thing for him to return here. As he had observed, according to verse 44, a prophet is seldom well-received by the people who saw him grow up.

Still, even here in where he was raised, the people had heard of the miraculous things he had been doing. Many of the people here had made the trip to Jerusalem themselves for the feast.(45) And so he returned to the place at which his first recorded miracle had taken place, the town of Cana.

The text tells of an official from Capernaum “whose son was ill.”(46) He had made the journey, about 15 miles or so, to where Jesus was.

When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.”(47)

Jesus makes what seems kind of an odd statement.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”(48)

The man clearly did not come here to discuss theology and doesn’t seem particularly interested in hearing a sermon or being taught a lesson. His son is near death. His only hope is that the one who has done so many unexplainable things might choose to come and heal his son.

This is precisely why I think it’s so important that we be about the work of helping meet the immediate needs of people—because it’s often very difficult to hear the truth of the gospel over the groans of the dying loved one or the screams of the sick baby or the howling winds from which they have no shelter or even the growling of their own empty belly.

The man simply begged Jesus to come and heal his son.

The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”(49)

Jesus, evidently moved by the man’s worry for his child, does something even better.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”(50a)

He granted immediate healing for the man’s son without even having to go and see the child in person. He met the man’s need. And the man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.”(50b)

The rest of the passage relays how the official’s servants met him as he made the trek back to Capernaum and brought him the news that the boy’s fever had broken and he was recovering—he would live!(51)

The man asked when things turned around and indeed it was at the very moment that Jesus had spoken the promise, “Your son will live.”(52-53a) But we must see the ripples of this healing action that Jesus took:

And he himself believed, and all his household.(53b)

People saw what Jesus did with merely the word of his mouth. They believed that Jesus was the promised One.

I suspect you would too… if it was your son.

Jesus stepped into the mess of disease and disability and brought healing.

He doesn’t always answer this way. He doesn’t always heal. But the hope of the gospel is the very real, very sure promise that ultimate healing will be found by all who believe in Him.

See Him as your healing.

Believe Him—that He came to heal you completely.

Know Him as your medicine, your therapy, your transplant, your wholeness.

I Can’t See It, But I Want To

One of those passages that has always been kind of quietly convicting is the account of Jesus as He looked out over the city of Jerusalem with tears in His eyes. In fact, it tells us that, as He saw the city He wept.

Jesus wept over this city that was obviously so dear to His heart. He wept for their lostness, their lack of understanding of the things happening right there among them. He wept that they were so close to Truth but were blinded by their tradition.

The people of that city in just a few short days would be crying out for Jesus to be crucified. But Jesus was heartbroken because He, the Prince of peace was here in their presence and they would simply not see Him for who He was.

I don’t understand how He could love them so desperately knowing that they would mock him so relentlessly. I don’t know how He could weep for those who would so soon cry for His execution. I don’t know how He could love them so much.

But then, how could He love me like He does?

I don’t understand that love, but I want it. I can’t see it, but I want to.

I want to see the world the way Jesus did…and does.

Like Brandon Heath so powerfully put it, “Lord, give me Your eyes..”

Brandon Heath, “Give Me Your Eyes”

Would you join Brandon and me in that prayer?