I grew up a child of the 60s. There were riots in the streets, assassinations of our leaders, and a country torn apart by a war no one understood but everyone witnessed every night on the news.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where racial tensions were high, crime was both carried out and fought by the Mafia, and life was less than perfect.
I grew up afraid – afraid of what this life had to offer and what death would bring to us all. Death seemed like the insurmountable hurdle, the obstacle no one could escape from, the great equalizer of all mankind.
And so I lived a life of quiet despair, anticipating death around every corner and dark alley waiting to jump out one day from its dark shadows (like the criminals in my neighborhood) to take me away into nothingness.
It was a moment in time 38 years ago when someone first told me that God loved me and that I could live together forever with Him. I did not know what was more incredible – that there was a God (and One who loved me!) or that I did not have to worry about an endless emptiness in this life and the next.
And that is why Ebola (or should I say the fear of Ebola?) has taken this nation be storm.
“But I don’t want to die,” I heard a sweet high school student say while in a class at Kent State University the same day the news of Ebola’s fearful descent upon Northeast Ohio hit. I wanted to take her in my arms and both laugh and cry at the same time. Laugh because it seemed so incredible that she really thought she might die of this dreaded current plague or cry because she felt so helpless at that moment.
And then I thought of myself at her tender age … running from and to death at the same time almost as if at light speed … so that, perhaps, the reality of it might somehow vaporize around me.
I now know (so many years later) that it is not death of which we should be afraid. It is of life and its apparent contradictions, its uncertain certainties, its way of forcing us to come to terms with the reality that we are mere mortals with little or no control over the circumstances that face us every day.
But … God …
My two favorite words! But God … who sees our every fearful moment hidden from view from the rest of the world … and has come to provide us not only lifelong peace in this world but an eternity of unabashed joy, love, and fullness in the next.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus – the Messiah) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death,” Hebrews 2:14, 15.