Dr. Kent Brantly and his family moved to the West African nation of Liberia to serve two years as a medical missionary with Samaritan’s Purse. He said when they went there, “Ebola was not on the radar. We moved to Liberia because God called us to serve the people of Liberia.” When the Ebola outbreak was discovered he sent his wife and family home, but stayed to help battle the coming pandemic.
While helping to alleviate the suffering and rendering life-saving treatment he fell victim to the virus himself. Samaritan’s purse had him flown back to America where he was given an experimental drug, Zmapp, and he recovered. In a statement after his ordeal Dr. Brantly said, in part, “I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life…Please continue to pray for Liberia and the people of West Africa.”
Writing for the Huffington Post, Steve McSwain admits Dr. Brantly’s example is, “Genuinely inspiring.” But he goes on to criticize the kind of theology that claims Dr. Brantly was spared, but allowed 1200 Africans to die. He asks, “Why were you spared but they were not?” McSwain thinks it is wrong to continue, “crediting God when good fortune comes our way.”
I agree the existence of evil defies logic, but the rationale that would credit “good fortune” for Dr. Brantly’s recovery is as ridiculous to me as crediting God is to McSwain. Besides, Dr. Brantly was not the only one spared. Thanks to Dr. Brantly and others many that would have died were saved.
Our first parents were warned about eating the fruit from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” They chose to ignore God and desired to “be like God, knowing good and evil.” Knowledge is not acquired by mere intellect but is further informed by experience. Adam and Eve did not understand the full extent of evil until they experienced their firstborn son murdering their second born son.
Each successive generation has been reminded of the knowledge of evil by what we experience. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is an example of the senselessness of evil.
Before I embrace a do-nothing cynicism, I will applaud and support the faith-filled actions of those like Dr. Brantly who do not ignore the existence of evil, but labor to stem its effect; who do not offer empty laments for those who died, but rejoice in those they were able to save.
Many will whine from the relative safety and comfort of America about the faith of those who pray and put their lives on the line for what they believe, but I’m going with Dr. Brantly on this one. I thank God for those who because of their faith suffer privations and risk their lives to serve others. I thank God for men and women like Dr. Brantly.