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How to react to the “plague”

How to react to the “plague”

If you enjoy history you may appreciate this piece about Martin Luther, who lived through an outbreak of bubonic plague in Wittenberg, Germany in the sixteenth century.  With typical bluster, he rails against the devil and has harsh words for those thought to be deliberately spreading the disease.  Of the latter, he wrote, “My advice is that if any such persons are discovered, the judge should take them by the ear and turn them over to Master Jack, the hangman, as outright and deliberate murderers.”

Luther lived before people understood how disease germs are spread.  Yet on balance the great Reformer offers wise advice:

I shall ask God mercifully to protect us.  Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it.  I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.  If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.  If my neighbour needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above.  See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.

Martin Luther demonstrated “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” that Paul wrote about in Philippians 4:7.  That anxiety-quieting spirit should characterize the followers of Jesus.  It may seem unattainable during plague times—until you remember that Paul wrote those words from a prison cell:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for what he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7