The current concern about a possible Swine Flu pandemic killing thousands brings back memories to me of the effects of the Asiatic Flu, a vicious virus of the fifties that brought untold suffering and claimed many lives.
While traveling to Illinois to conduct a preaching mission for 15 days during that time I became so concerned about the danger of contracting this strain of the flu that unwanted questions began to surface.
What if so many in the community to which I was headed should become ill that few would be able to attend these nightly meetings? What if I succumbed to this vicious virus and became unable to carry out my mission? These and other concerns moved me to pray. My prayer went something like this: “Lord keep me from getting the Asiatic flu during these meetings.” And my prayer was answered! I felt fine for the next 15 days and had no difficulty fulfilling my responsibilities.
Now for the rest of the story: Shortly after returning home, I became so ill that I was unable to even travel to the doctor’s office, making it necessary for this good man to drive to our rural home to treat me for this terrible illness. Thankfully his medication, along with my wife’s loving care and the prayers of many brought full recovery. But, after all these years, I’m still asking why I prayed so timidly, requesting only to escape the Asiatic Flu for fifteen days.
Good question! And here’s a related one: Why do we pray such small prayers when, according to the Bible, God has the power to do more than we can ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20)?
We have a powerful heavenly Father who cares about every problem we face and we ought to honor Him by expecting answers to our prayers.
The One who sees a sparrow fall invites us to pray in faith, expecting His protection to arrive on time and last until all our fears have fled.
In his book, Getting Things from God, the late Dr. Charles Blanchard, former president of Wheaton (Illinois) College reminded his readers that our Lord never rebukes people for coming to Him too frequently or praying too largely.
In other words, when it comes to praying, those who make big requests honor their Lord by demonstrating they believe He is able to come through.
Some fearful ones are having Swine Flu parties, hoping to catch the flu early rather than later in the year, thinking this virus may gain strength and be more dangerous during the fall, but this strategy may backfire; bringing suffering to many who would not have been affected at all.
What shall we do? Reject my example of puny praying for only a fifteen day reprieve from the flu.
Why not ask God to rescue us from this potential plague, whether through medical breakthroughs or divine deliverance, and expect Him to come through.
Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.