Dr. Kent Brantly, cured or healed (whichever verb you prefer) of the Ebola virus and outspokenly giving the glory to God last Thursday, quickly became red meat for a Twitter feeding frenzy. How dare he, in this day and age, appear at a nationally televised press conference after his release from the isolation unit of Emory University Hospital and praise God for his clean bill of health.
Nowadays high school graduation valedictory speeches can be scrubbed of such egregious religious content through a pre-approval process conducted by the authorities, but evidently everyone was too caught off guard to redact the doc.
The incident should hearten Christians on several levels. It confirms that, as the man at the piano in Casablanca sang, “The fundamental things apply, as time goes by.”
Moonlight and love songs,
Never out of date.
Hearts full of passion,
Jealousy and hate.
Woman needs man,
And man must have his mate.
That no one can deny.
Add—though Sam didn’t sing it—the rage of God haters against God praisers is still an age-old thing “on which you can rely.” If it weren’t for the fact that people of all times have shot daggers from their eyes at the praises of God, we would be bereft of one of the proofs of religion. For as the apostle Paul said, by way of encouragement, to the saints at Philippi, the mockery of unbelievers is:
“… a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:28–30, ESV).
So, then, all things are on schedule and according to predictions.
The other consolation of the Twitter hatefest is that, counterintuitively, it tends to embolden rather than suppress future boldness of believers. In the same letter, Paul wrote:
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, have become much more bold to speak the word without fear” (1:12–14, ESV).
Most inspiring to me personally was Dr. Brantly’s testimony that while he lay sick for nine days in Liberia, he prayed that God would keep him faithful even during this frightening threat to life and limb. How many of us give ourselves permission to fall apart spiritually during such times, justifying it as understandable under the circumstances. Paul said to imitate people with great faith, and I want to imitate Dr. Brantly from now on. No more fair-weather Christianity for me. Praises to God all around.
Listen to Dr. Kent Brantly’s statement to the press last Thursday on The World and Everything in It: