Greetings, dear sisters and brothers, fellow living stones being built into His temple for His glory. May He be seen and glorified and blessed and may you be encouraged and blessed! May we look at Him more and more that we might become clear as windows for Him to be seen in us.
About a week ago, many rabbis called for the country to meet at the western wall and to pray for God to intervene and drive back the Corona virus plague. Many thousands did show up in the pouring rain of the evening to ask for God’s mercy.
As I watched the evening news, one of those rabbis who called for the prayer was asked by the reporter, “What they thought that they could accomplish by praying?”
The rabbi smiled at the reporter and said,”The scientists and doctors can search for a cure and prevention…and we must do what we CAN do…but we can pray. Pray we must, for we are called to be a light to the nations and the nations are in deep trouble.”
And in trouble, we are. All of us.
I don’t know if any of you are too young to remember that things (ie; people) weren’t always THIS polarized. That there really WERE times in which there was a certain right and wrong that wasn’t questioned and when it was the bad guy who crossed the lines and not the poor misunderstood guy. And yet, there WAS compassion, not the hardness of heart that there seems to be today in response to the other side, but reason in society as a whole. That is NOT to say that it was idyllic by any means, but it was NOT upside down as it is today.
Some of you, like me, might be old enough to remember plagues and epidemics and stories of dark days in times past.
I do NOT want to step on any toes here or get into any arguments. I see my defined task (in Hebrew the word is taf-keed) in these letters is “what you see… write.” The older that I get the more I have seen and a certain perspective forms as the time gets longer that I have walked this earth.
You know that I grew up in New York City just after WW2. My Dad had had polio when he was 2 and by his own confession he had been spoiled because he survived. I never did see the spoiled side of my dear hard working father who endured so much with a grateful heart. The polio left him badly crippled in the legs, with a deformed back and injured lungs from which he suffered for the rest of his 68 years on this earth.
When summers came in New York, a great fear descended upon the parents because of polio, which struck down children all summer long. Parents were terrified. Each year there would be more classmates to visit in the “iron lung” or who would appear in heavy iron leg braces or wheel chairs. It was part of my childhood, and although we children didn’t share the fears of our parents, we SAW their fear.
In the winter it was “the grippe” that claimed the lives of countless. Sometimes schools were closed. When I had the measles we were quarantined (as was every family with measles). I remember the first day that I was well enough to see the tape across our doors and the sign saying that no one could enter or leave the premises until the health department cleared us. Groceries were left outside the front door and my mother made face masks out of old sheets.
I remember the cracks in the ceiling turning into snakes and screaming with fear as my fever rose. My sister and I were polio pioneers as we were given the first experimental polio vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk himself (we had a photo and a button). My father had suffered so much. It was the least that we could do. When the vaccine worked, it seemed as if the world was rejoicing. This terrible scourge had been beaten and the fear could lift and we children could actually go swimming in the summer heat without fear of polio!
Recently I stumbled across a video that made me wonder how I could speak about this.
Last January, I nearly died from influenza and pneumonia. During that time, The Lord opened to me 1 Chronicles 21. I saw how David stood before The Lord between the death angel and the people of Jerusalem, a perfect intercession after David’s tremendous sin resulting in God’s judgment against the people of Israel.
I was left with many questions and much seeking. Last January was not the first time that I had influenza. Before the flu shots were discovered I had it once as a child and twice as a teen- young adult. People use the word flu lightly for any viral infection, but influenza is no small thing. The video is powerful and worth watching. It is the documentation of the influenza impacting Bristol Bay Alaska in 1919, the influenza from which my husband’s grandparents all died, leaving just his mother and father as orphaned children who met in the orphanage.
As a matter of fact, my husband’s uncle had been a teenager and told me years ago how everyone in his village had died leaving him and his small sister (my husband’s mother) and his future wife (a child at the time) alive. When they were well enough to leave the bodies behind, they walked out of the village, aimless and starving and they met Jesus on the tundra. The Lord strengthened these orphaned children and showed them the way to walk to where people were still alive. It was a powerful testimony to me, listening to him speak in the cold Alaskan darkness, a story to me – untold. But he wasn’t the first one to tell me about that influenza.
My mother was born during it in 1918 in a hospital in NY. I grew up hearing how my Grandmother clutched her newborn baby, praying that she and her baby would live, as death wagons clanged through the streets night and day picking up bodies.
I am not speaking of ancient history, and yet this generation has thankfully little experience with plagues and illnesses of massive proportion…until now.
Israel’s borders are not completely closed, but our health ministry has called upon the public not to travel unless absolutely necessary. Some young people are taking it lightly, but more and more are not, as there has not been known before a virus that could spread this rapidly, live for 9 days on inanimate objects (even the sidewalk) and not show infection for weeks. Great lengths have been gone to to restrain its spread, but should it spread it has the potential to infect virtually everyone…and that would shut everyTHING.
So I ask (and I am sure you do too) “What are you saying, Lord?”
I have no doubt that plague is a sign of God’s judgment. It is written through out scripture.
I KNOW the promises in Psalm 91 and others, nevertheless I can not take The Word of God as a magic potion. It is The Word of GOD and HE IS GOD! I heard an interview with some Christian tourists who were in the Old City visiting from the U.S. When asked if they were afraid (Jerusalem is FULL of tourists from all over the world including China, South Korea, Italy and all of the most infected countries), they laughed lightly and one said, “If God told us to come we will be fine.”
And you and I know this to be true. But there was a lightness in her speech (as in taking it lightly) that stopped me. In South Korea the center of the epidemic has been one of the most charismatic Churches. The precious doctor who became the whistle blower in China and so sadly died was a young vibrant Christian – a strong believer walking with The Lord – with an 8 month pregnant wife.
God’s Word is sure and true but it is not a magic potion and we are flesh and blood. I BELIEVE that He is saying something to us and my question is: “LORD! HOW DO I PRAY INTO THIS! HOW DO I NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED!”
Ever so many years ago I remember someone telling me that not a hair on my head would be harmed and I had just been reading about the believers being killed in droves in Africa and there was a discrepancy. I am NOT a fear-monger NOR AM I FEARFUL…but I DO feel that He has made a distinction between HIS KINGDOM and the kingdom of this world and I had BETTER be walking IN HIS KINGDOM WHERE THERE IS NO DEATH, BECAUSE THIS BODY OF FLESH WILL DIE.
I stumble constantly (oh Lord of mercy!) but I have LEARNED TO TURN AND LOOK UPON HIM! I stumble and fall but I MUST get up and run to Him and kneel at the cross again and again and AGAIN.
Oh sisters and brothers, I DON’T know how it is where you are, but for me today, riding the train where so many were coughing and sneezing and getting off at the shuk with Chinese tourists and standing to buy tomatoes between a young couple of tourists speaking Italian, ALARM BELLS GO OFF and I NEED to know how to pray NOW. NOT that I will be just fine for if I am in Him and in His kingdom, whether I live or die means little to me…but HOW TO PRAY.
To pray for our elections on Monday which are alarming…:
To pray for our borders with Hamas and Hizbollah which are boiling…(although this virus may be closing borders all around us that no human sanctions could!)
To pray for our collapsing health system (atleast we don’t have to pray concerning drought right now)
AND HOW TO PRAY MERCY IN HIS JUDGMENT…
Oh for a heart like King David’s who was able to prevail because of his broken humility and his heart that KNEW GOD.
Your sister J