Fear and Ebola

I spent 10 days in West Africa.  Burkina Faso to be exact.  Upon arriving in the airport, our temperature was taken as a precautionary measure to detect someone infected with Ebola.  It was on the minds of the missionaries as well as the Burkinab√©.  Prayers were said for the countries with reported cases and for protection for the country of Burkina Faso.  And yet, no one avoided handshakes or hugs.  We exchanged cheek kisses as is customary when greeting a friend.  We were welcomed warmly wherever we went. 

That all changed on our way home when we boarded a plane out of Brussels, Belgium bound for the United States.  My seatmate physically turned away from me after learning I was returning from a trip to Burkina Faso in West Africa.  During a layover at Dulles International Airport I sat and listened to CNN use the term 'Ebola outbreak' on what seemed like an 8 minute loop.  Every headline was sensationalized.  Even a dog was quarantined.  The fear of an unseen enemy was permeating the hearts and minds of American citizens.

We were met at our local airport by one of our pastors and given a letter from our county health department.  Even though Burkina Faso has no reported cases of Ebola and the United States had 3 at the time, friends avoided hugs.  My husband's co-workers literally turned the other way when they saw him in the hallway after my arrival home.  Co-workers of my fellow teammates shook their heads in disdain upon seeing them in public.  Some of their family members opted not to be near them for 21 days after our arrival.  Our church didn't shake hands in greeting but waved to each other instead.  All because of a fear of the unseen.  Fear that robbed people of logical reasoning.

Do you know that the bible says 'Do not fear' and 'Do not be afraid' at least 110 times!  Some of my favorites from the NIV bible are;

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, emphasis added)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, emphasis added)
Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:8, emphasis added)
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. (Daniel 10:12, emphasis added)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27, emphasis added)
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. (Revelation 1:17, emphasis added)

If we can be so afraid of an unseen enemy such as Ebola, why do we not counter that fear with a faith in an unseen omnipotent God?  Ebola strikes fear, God conquered death.  Ebola can lead to death, yet faith in God can lead to peace of mind and eternal life.

Today marks my 21st day in the United States after being in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  My friends and family, my husband's and teammate's co-workers can all breath a deep sigh of relief.  Heck, maybe I'll even get a hug or two.  I am and always have been Ebola free.  Thanks to my faith, I am also free from the fear that sneaks in to rob me of joy or logical reasoning.