A friend texted me this afternoon. “A second potential Ebola patient was found in Frisco.”
The patient was at a clinic not too far from my home. Across the street from where I got gas last week. Near a neighborhood where many of my friends live. In the same parking lot used by a sister church in our area.
The news hit me like a punch in the gut. I was alarmed, terrified, and paranoid all in one emotional reaction. I retraced my mental log from the last week:
- Did I run into anyone who seemed sick?
- Did I walk near that clinic for any reason?
- Was there anything suspicious that I was overlooking last week?
I called my wife in a calm panic. We both desperately needed to confirm that we had not exposed our family or friends to a deadly infectious disease. My wife went immediately to the store to grab bleach and clorox disinfecting wipes. She wiped down the house like it was a scene in a Jason Bourne film. We both checked twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media for up to date information on the patient, the situation, and the danger risk.
In my worry, I assumed a zombie-like presence. At work people came in and out of my office but I found it difficult to focus. I was experiencing something I had not faced in quite a while. Sheer terror.
Ebola as an idea is not a pleasant thought to my 21st century sensibilities. In Ebola there are no known antidotes. This means that there is no opt-out protocol. I cannot unsubscribe from Ebola. I can’t negotiate with the disease. I am unable to “keep my options open.” It is the airplane turbulence of diseases and I am sitting in a passenger seat. There is no way to insulate myself from that which Ebola represents — namely, that when it comes down to it, I am not in control.
And so it is in this moment that I must consider a deeply important question about ultimate reality — how do I function in a world where I am not in control?
The Israelites found themselves in a similar situation on the shores of the Red Sea in Exodus 14. Pharaoh’s chariots were visibly approaching along the shoreline and their intent was destruction. There in that place, roughly 3 million former slaves were trapped between an impending army of doom and an impassable body of water. They were faced with a similar reality – No negotiating. No other options. No ability to control the situation.
And in that moment, God graciously stepped into their context and provided a way where there was no way. He parted the Red Sea, providing dry land upon which they could cross. And then he enclosed the waters over their captors.
In this moment, God reminded them of an important principle about His character. The author of Hebrews attests to this principle in Hebrews 12:27 (NIV):
“The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.”
Sometimes, God will allow our world to be shaken so that what cannot be shaken will stand out as our only option.
Sometimes God will permit us to become aware of our own lack of control. And, in that moment He will graciously remind us that He remains in control. Sometimes God permits an potential Ebola scare on Main Street in your town, a few blocks away from where you get your groceries, in your own neighborhood, across the street from where you get gas, all to remind you that you are not in control and that He remains in control. Ebola may shake us, but the realization of our own anxiety contrasts with the reality that He cannot be shaken.
Today I am aware that Ebola potentially exists in my city. And I am honestly scared. But I am also honestly reminded of God’s sovereign rule over all things, including Ebola. And so I am also resolved to bless the Lord whilst quoting Psalm 20:7:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.