The day is over; you are driving home. You turn on your radio. You hear a little news story about a small village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. It’s not OUR flu, but three or four people died in a weird way, and we’re sending some doctors over there to investigate it.
You don’t think much about it, but coming home from church on Sunday you hear it mentioned again—only now they say it’s not three villagers, it’s 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it’s on TV that night. CNN runs a story; people from the disease center in Atlanta are heading there because this disease strain has never been seen before.
By Monday morning when you get up, it’s the lead story. It’s not just India; it’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Before you know it, you’re hearing this story everywhere, and they have dubbed it “the mystery flu.” The President has made some comment that he and everyone are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, How are we going to contain it?
That’s when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where this thing has been seen. And that’s why you’re glued to CNN that night before going to bed. There’s a man lying in a Parisian hospital dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe. Panic strikes.
As best they can tell, once contracted, it takes a while for symptoms to show up. AND PEOPLE INFECT OTHERS BEFORE EVEN REALIZING THEY HAVE IT! After just four days of unbelievable symptoms, the victim dies.
Britain closes its borders, but it’s too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton … and it’s Tuesday morning when the President of the United States makes the following announcement: “Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I’m sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this plague.”
Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. Everyone rushes out to buy little facial masks. People ask, “What if it comes to this country?” And on Tuesday preachers begin proclaiming, “It’s the scourge of God.” At Wednesday night’s church prayer meeting somebody runs in from the parking lot crying, “Turn on a radio, turn on a radio!” And while the church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made. Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the mystery flu.
Within hours it seems, this thing just sweeps across the country. Medical professions work around the clock trying to find an antidote. Nothing works.
California. Oregon. Arizona. Florida. Massachusetts. It’s as though it’s just sweeping in from both borders.
And then, all of a sudden there’s BREAKING NEWS. The DNA has been sequenced. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It’s going to take the blood of somebody who hasn’t been infected. And so, sure enough, all through the Midwest, through all those channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is asked to do one simple thing: Go to your downtown hospital and have your blood type taken. That’s all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens blare through your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospitals.
When you and your family get down there late that Friday night, there is a long line, and nurses and doctors hurry out to prick fingers, draw blood, and label the tubes. Your wife and your kids are out there. After they take your blood type, they say, “Wait here in the parking lot. If we call your name, you can be dismissed to go home.” You stand around with your neighbors, scared; because if they tell you to go home, it means you already have the virus.
Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He’s yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? What did he say? He yells it again!
And your son tugs on your jacket and says, “Daddy, that’s me.” Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. Wait a minute. Hold on! And they say, “It’s okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We need to make sure, but we think he doesn’t have the disease. We think he may be immune!”
Five tense minutes later, the doctors and nurses emerge, crying and hugging one another—some are even laughing. It’s the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week. An old doctor walks up to you and says, “Thank you, sir. Your son’s blood type is perfect. It’s clean, it is pure, and we can make the vaccine.”
As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, “May we see you for a moment? We didn’t realize that the donor would be a minor and we need … we need you to sign a consent form.”
SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY THEY SAY IT … As you begin to sign, you see on the form that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. “H-h-h-how many pints?” And that is when the old doctor’s smile fades and he says, “We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren’t prepared. We need it all!”
“But-but … “
“You don’t understand. We are talking about the SURVIVAL OF THE HUMAN RACE here. Please sign. We … we need it all!”
“But can’t you give him a transfusion?”
“If the blood has the tiniest impurity, sir, it won’t work. WE CAN’T TAKE THAT RISK.”
Can you sign? Would you sign?
In numb silence, you do. Then they say, “Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?”
Can you walk back? Can you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, “Daddy? Mommy? What’s going on?”
Can you take his hands and say, “Honey, your mommy and I love you, and we would never
ever let anything happen to you that didn’t just have to be. Do you understand that?”
And when that old doctor comes back in and says, “I’m sorry, we’ve … we’ve got to get started. People all over the world are dying.” Can you leave? Can you walk out while he is saying, “Daddy? Mommy? Daddy?” As if he’s saying, “Why? Why have you forsaken me?”
Can you walk out and not look back and drive home to sob yourself to sleep?
And then next month, when they have the ceremony in your town to honor the sacrifice of your son, some folks sleep through it, and some folks don’t even come because they’d rather go to the lake, and some folks arrive late and leave before it is over so that they can get a good place in line at the restaurant. Would you want to jump up and say, “MY SON DIED! DON’T YOU CARE?”
We might be tempted to think that this is the message of God, but the message of God is more mature and gracious than ours would be. His message is simply, “My Son died because there was no other way to save you. And we just want you to know that this is how much WE care.”
THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS SETTLES ONCE AND FOR ALL THE QUESTION OF WHETHER GOD LOVES YOU AND HOW MUCH GOD LOVES YOU.
Father, seeing it from Your eyes breaks our hearts. Help us begin to comprehend the great Love You have for us. Thank You for loving us. Help us to love You back with all of our hearts and mind and souls and strength.