Passage: Psalm 34:4–34:8
Pastor Gibson live streamed this brief devotional on the first weekend of the coronavirus containment efforts while traveling to Oklahoma City for a funeral.
Psalm 34:4-8 - "I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
Other verses referenced:
1 Timothy 4:13 - “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
Luke 10:38-42 - “38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." 41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
Matthew 6:34 - "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
1 Peter 5:7 - "cast your cares upon him because he cares for you."
2 Timothy 1:7 - “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Christian Post Opinion Page; Thursday, October 16, 2014
Between 250 and 270 A.D. a terrible plague, believed to be measles or smallpox, devastated the Roman Empire. At the height of what came to be known as the Plague of Cyprian, after the bishop St. Cyprian who chronicled what was happening, 5,000 people died every day in Rome alone.
The plague coincided with the first empire-wide persecution of Christians under the emperor Decius. Not surprisingly, Decius and other enemies of the Church blamed Christians for the plague. That claim was, however, undermined by two inconvenient facts: Christians died from the plague like everybody else and, unlike everybody else, they cared for the victims of the plague, including their pagan neighbors.
This wasn't new—Christians had done the same thing during the Antonine Plague a century earlier. As Rodney Stark wrote in "The Rise of Christianity," Christians stayed in the afflicted cities when pagan leaders, including physicians, fled.
Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, notes that an "epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity." By their actions in the face of possible death, Christians showed their neighbors that "Christianity is worth dying for."
This witness came to mind after listening to a recent story on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Host Robert Siegel interviewed Stephen Rowden, who volunteered for Doctors Without Borders in Monrovia, Liberia.
Rowden's grim task was to manage the teams that collected the bodies of Ebola victims. Rowden and his team retrieved 10-to-25 bodies a day. Since close contact with the victims is the chief means by which the usually-deadly virus is spread, Rowden and his team members lived with the risk of becoming victims themselves.
What's more, living in the midst of this death and suffering took its toll. Rowden recalled entering a house and finding the body of a four-year-old victim who had been abandoned by her family. With the typical English understatement, he told Siegel, "I found that a very sad case."
Rowden's experience prompted Siegel to ask him if he was a religious man, to which Rowden replied, "I am. Yes, I'm a practicing Christian." When Siegel then asked whether what he saw tested his faith, Rowden said that "No, I got great strength from my faith and the support of my family."
Nearly eighteen centuries after the Plague of Cyprian, Christianity still prompts people to run towards the plague when virtually everyone else is running away.