An article emailed to me by a dear friend Abigail; felt that it made some sense. Anyway, I have also shared my thoughts (below) about this article.
The article: We have all become paranoid!!!!!!
At first, it was the terrorists and now it’s SARS. Did the terrorists actually create that big damage ? Did SARS actually kill a lot of people ? Yes, September 11 saw a few thousand people being killed but more people died in the war in Iraq. Out of the 3,000 or so people who are infected by SARS, only about 4-5 in a 100 died. In Fact, the Nipah virus 1 ½ years ago were more fatal. So what is creating all this havoc that many flights have to be cancelled and hotel rooms became empty ? Share markets are being affected and growth rate for countries have to be readjusted downward.
Some people start to avoid the health workers. Taxis refused to pick up nurses. Some community leaders even told their followers not to shake hands with people ! Even the dead is not spared – In Thailand, there was a huge protest preventing a deceased SARS patient from being cremated in case the virus will spread through the air ! To answer the question, I would like to use the following story to describe the present situation:-
Once there was a plague on its way to London to kill the residents there. On the way, he met a fellow traveler who ask him “Mr. Plaque, where are you going and for what purpose ? “I’m going to London to kill 5,000 people” said the Plaque. And each went their own way. On his return journey, the traveler once again met the Plaque and began to question him “Mr.Plaque, you told me that you are going to kill 5,000 people in London but I was told that 500,000 people died, how is that ?” “Oh” said the Plaque, “I actually only kill 5,000 people but the other 495,000 people died of FRIGHT !”
As one American President once said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself !” Isn’t it very true of the situation in the world today? Many are engulfed by the fear of terrorism and now by the fear of SARS. Each of us has a choice. Do we like to live in fear or do we like to live a life of confidence ? Does it make any sense to live a life in constant fear? Is that what we want ? Are we really living if we are fearful of death everyday? Come to think of it, each day we live we are actually one day closer to our death. So whether we like it or not one day we have to die. The question is are we going to live each day in constant fear of our death or are we going to live in full confidence until that fateful day comes. Remember what Shakespeare said “Cowards die many times before their death!” May the courage be with you.
Your traveler in time
Here is my thought:
Billi (author of the article) implies that “fear can be conquered if reasoned” hence we may have “a choice either or not to fear”.
Well I would classify fear in two different ways:
1) Fear can be caused about uncertainty of an event, i.e., if we don’t know about certain outcome.
2) Fear can be caused about certainty of an event, i.e., if we know about the outcome!
Interesting irony is that items 1 and 2 are compliment to each other, hence (mathematically) we fear both when we “know” and “don’t know” about an outcome! Meaning fear has nothing to do with “knowing” or “not knowing” but the outcome itself! Well…well, keeping aside the rhetoric let me go to the point that I want to make:
Item-1 causes fear because ‘uncertainty breeds assumptions (fearful assumptions)’. Unable to see the SARS through naked eye, even though we may not have been infected, we assume that one way or other it’s gonna get us, hence we fear!
Item-2 causes fear because ‘certainty breeds anxiety’. When SARS finally gets us, we know for sure that we are gonna die soon, hence we fear! In both the cases, if we observe carefully, we actually fear the outcome; the “death” and not the SARS. In that way Billi is right, but his optimistic approach that we have a choice (wishful thinking that SARS will not get me) will not help item-1, neither his pessimistic reasoning that ‘death is inevitable’ (I got SARS, so what?) will not help item-2. Fear WILL reign and win in either case!!
Is there a way out? Yes:
1) I believe that all events (including the ones that affect me) are governed by the Creator. What I call “an accident” (or imagine that I caused it though my will) is actually a planned incident in my book of life. In short, “I have no choice”. This defeats item-1!
2) I believe that all events (including the ones that don’t affect me) is designed to work for my good. What I call “an unfortunate” is a planned blessing-in-disguise in my book of life. In short, “I am the clay in the Skilled Potter’s Hand”. This defeats item-2. mmm.…. did I say that I defeated fear? I guess not, I just “used” it in a complex way… … but it still exists and it should exist!
Ok, on the lighter side, it helps me control my children! They fear the vacuum cleaner and I turn on the vac to keep them from jumping around and tearing the whole house down! Isn’t it odd that things that we fear actually do good to us, in some strange way! 🙂
—– Original Message —–
To: “Priscilla Edward”
It is difficult to agree that a gracious God will inflict pain in my life so that He can mould me. Many a times human suffering is a result of human actions. Living in this sinful and corrupted world itself brings so much of pain to our lives. I affrim that God is sovereign and reigns in all situations but that does not mean SARS comes from God lah. I think as children of God we can look at tough circumstances and thank God for the way He stayed with us and carried us through. Of course at times we learn valuable lessons as a result of the struggle. Take care.
—– Original Message —–
From: “Priscilla Edward”
I do understand your stand: This difference of opinion you put forth is the common stand taken by all ‘freewill’ pro-opponents. Some believe that theological difference between believers are rather insignificant, but I don’t. I believe that the opinions and beliefs a believer subscribes to leans very much on the fundamental theological versions that they believe! (a kinda tongue-twister uh?) What I’m trying to say is that knowingly or unknowingly our theological fundamentals in most part govern our rhetoric and even define our rationale. With this biased sunglasses we even go to the extent of defining the very core of Gospel completely justifying our theological stand! This dispute has been going on for centuries between denominations and will continue to grow until the test of fire will prove who has built on sand and who has built on rock!
For instance your statement “I affirm that God is sovereign and reigns in all situations” (emphasizing on the word ‘all’) is very much in line with reformed (my) thinking, but we immediately differ 180 degrees in the very next sentence “but that does not mean SARS comes from God”; for me if it is not from God then from whom does it come from? From Satan? From the Japanese? hehehe… If you were right, God does not reign over everything because things like SARS (which comes from someone else) will always be challenging God as he has to protect us from this outbreak which happened outside His realm! This leads to the analogy that God has a plan for this earth (and it’s creatures) but it’s being constantly messed up by someone (either equally or more powerful than God) hence God has to protect us, kinda looks like a checker game of defense! That’s not the definition of “sovereign”.
Reformers believe that ‘Sovereign’ means everything ‘inclusive’. It’s Man’s fallen nature with his pride which refuses to accept this supremacy of God. Why because it reduces humans to worms and clay (according to the Word), which is unacceptable to our arrogant mind. The Word stands testimony to the fact that even Satan is under my Almighty’s control and sovereignty. There are no ‘buts’ and ‘ifs’ to His reign. Hence the same hand that created Man, also created SARS, also created AIDS. But why?
Well… that’s the answer every ‘free-willian’ ever wants to know,
…and the question that every ‘reformer’ never wants to ask!