This blog post is coming out a little late, I know. I started writing it at the beginning of October, when the first case of Ebola hit the United States. I wanted to assure you guys that everything was going to be fine in the Industrialized World, that the real threat was to West Africa, and how those of us living in other parts of the world should respond to the outbreak for the sake of those affected.
I wanted to discourage anyone from saying, "Oh my snickerdoodle! This is where it starts. The zombie apocalypse is coming, guys. The Ebola virus will definitely mutate, and it'll be time to head for the hills with your rifles, beef jerky, and jars of grandma's strawberry preserves." I wanted to assure you that it was best to stop freaking out. But then the second case of Ebola was confirmed in New York City.
According to the CDC, the likelihood of an outbreak spreading throughout the United States was close to zero. Yeah, anything can happen, but unlike West Africa, where the outbreak first started, the U.S. does have advanced medical facilities that are equipped to deal with infected patients. Ebola is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids like blood, mucus, or other bodily secretions. So if you know someone is infected, then you can know what precautions to take.
"Ebola can be scary," said CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities." [source]
Just as I was getting ready to head into a full on, thoroughly-researched writing of this post though, the news exploded with hysteria upon a second confirmed case in the U.S., and I started to think, "What if I assure everybody, then something horrible happens? What if I was wrong?"
It's true that there is no vaccine for the Ebola virus. It's true that there are only two experimental drugs that have not yet been proven to "cure" Ebola. What if the Top 10 Things You REALLY Need to Know About Ebola weren't actually enough to save everybody from the virus?
Then time went on, and the immediate threat of an Ebola outbreak in the United States became old news. Ebola is not going to wipe out Earth's human population. Yes, there are countries that are still struggling; we cannot forget that. The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. But freaking out and worrying is definitely not what we should be doing.
God is sovereign, which means He is in complete control over diseases and other afflictions. No matter what the outcome of this outbreak, nothing will happen without God allowing it.
Some may speculate that God has brought this upon the world just as He did in the Old Testament, so that both His people and His enemies can witness His power (Exodus 9:14, 1; Exodus 12:13; Exodus 15:26). Yes, He has the power to cause epidemics AND to take them away. But does that automatically mean that today's Ebola outbreak is caused by God?
God did also warn His people of the consequences of disobedience, which included plagues (Leviticus 26:21, 25; Numbers 16:49; Deuteronomy 28:22). Jesus referred to future plagues as part of the end-times events (Luke 21:11; Revelation 11:6; Revelation 15). It’s sometimes hard to imagine our loving and merciful God displaying such wrath and anger toward those He loves. We may never know for sure why this is happening, but we do know that God’s punishments always have the goal of repentance and restoration.
Now, before we start panicking again, let me assure you that this Ebola outbreak is not necessarily a sign of the end times. The truth is, we cannot truly know future event details because we don't have the ability to see into the future. We can make predictions, yes, but that's not the same as knowing. Whether or not this outbreak is part of God’s judgment or simply the result of living in a fallen world or even a sign of the end times, our response should be the same: trusting that God is in control and asking Him to guide our next steps in life.
Death and disease remind us that life on this earth is fleeting and can be gone in an instant. Without salvation through Jesus Christ, we are destined to pay for our sins eternally in a hell that will make the worst situations on earth seem like a tropical vacation. However, for those who trust in Jesus, we have the assurance of salvation and the hope of eternity in Paradise (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28).
May God grant you peace as you face the unknown future. May you trust in His sovereignty completely, knowing that everything that happens will bring God glory and allow a chance for redemption of you, me, and all of mankind.
Cat is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and writes novellas with local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, five socially awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily that gets together every Saturday for various shenanigans.