Some thoughts on disease, pandemics and health

Diseases, including terrible pandemics which wiped out massive numbers of people and caused enormous economic, political and social hardship, have been with the human race for as long as human beings have been recording history. The most recent such event was the Spanish Influenza pandemic which happened in 1918 and killed off 3% of the people living in the world at that time.

A global pandemic of that kind has happened roughly every 100 years for most of recorded human history, and I don’t remember exactly when but I learned about all this in school at a pretty young age and I also learned that I could expect to live long enough to see the next Big One happen. I remember talking to my parents about it and my father told me it was true and advised me not to worry, but rather to “make my peace with it” since there was nothing I could do about it. My mother disagreed, saying that medical science was making progress all the time and that by the time another pandemic happened, there might be a way to prevent it being as bad as the ones in previous centuries.

Well gentle reader, here we are in 2020 and it looks like we’re staring down the barrel of a potential pandemic in the COVID-19 coronavirus, which is causing severe stress all over the world and which showed up here in Israel in recent days under circumstances I’m sure KNI readers will be familiar with.

So, was my father right, or was my mom right?

Well, I think they both had a point.

It’s very possible that this COVID-19 coronavirus will be as bad or worse as the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918. But then again, it might not. The medical people working on solutions have already found some promising lines of treatment, and most government agencies in the world seem to be taking the problem as seriously as it deserves to be taken. I have, like everyone else, tried to get some clarity on how worried I should be about this and one expert who I thought sounded pretty level-headed said that this will either be “make this a really bad flu season or end up being a fairly mild pandemic” (That brings up the point that regular old, run-of-the-mill influenza kills off hundreds of thousands of people every year, even when there isn’t a pandemic.)

However, even if this pandemic is somehow brought under control and we get past it, the “Big One” my father advised me to make my peace with when I was a kid WILL come sooner or later, and it’ll be utterly devastating. The Bible contains many prophecies about the End Times which include warnings about devastating plagues which will wipe out huge numbers of people.

So what can be done?

First of all, praying for the physical health of ourselves and our loved ones is vitally important. We should also pray for the physical health and safety of our pastoral leadership, our political leadership and so on. If you’re a child, you can pray for yourself and all your friends, your teachers, the principal at your school and the school nurse if you are blessed to have one. For that matter, pray for all doctors and nurses and medical technicians, particularly the people who are working on this COVID-19 problem.

As we see in Luke 9:1, Jesus gave His authority over demons and diseases to His Disciples. I believe that’s you and that’s me! When we pray for people to be healed, miracles happen. I am personally acquainted with people who recovered from medical conditions after they were prayed for, despite the fact that their doctors said they wouldn’t recover.

In the natural, the best cure for any disease is to not get sick in the first place, which is why I’m a huge fan of what’s called “preventative medicine” which is just a fancy way of saying we all need to take care of our bodies and our health. We all know how to do it too. Regular exercise and healthy eating are the basic building blocks, but I also believe that regular prayer and fasting have physical as well as spiritual benefits. Mental and emotional stress can have terrible effects on our physical health, so it must be dealt with and regular prayer/fasting, as well as fellowship with other Believers and Bible study, is the best way to manage stress from all sources.

I also advise people to take vitamin supplements and keep your home well supplied with basic medicines like pain-killers and band aids. Keep your home as clean as possible to avoid unnecessary infections and to make your home as unattractive as possible to insects and other pests which carry diseases.

If all that fails and you somehow get sick, GO TO YOUR DOCTOR! God gave us doctors and nurses to take care of our health when all the things we’ve tried to do to take care of ourselves have failed. It’s not medical science OR prayer, it’s both!

Doing all this is not just a good idea, it’s an act of obedience to God. You and I are spiritual beings which have been given a body by God so that we can dwell in it during our short time on this earth, because He’s got work for us to do here. Taking care of our body so we can use it to do all the work He has given us to do is our responsibility to Him.

That’s what I’ve got for you this week brothers and sisters. I hope it blessed someone.