In 1918 my grandfather, who was 24 at the time, found himself deployed as an army nurse at Fort Riley, Kansas. That army base turned out to be one of the epicenters in the fight against the flu pandemic of 1918, called the Spanish Flu. Interesting enough when asked why he thought he made it through without contracting the virus he said it was because he always sucked on a lemon. In retrospect this may have kept his immune system strong enough to fight off the virus and also I can see God’s hand on the generations that followed.
Like many of us today, people back in 1918 wondered why the Spanish flu was so different from the seasonal flues that people got every year. Scientists found that a typical flu contains an ‘all human virus’ making the DNA/RNA chains that comprised the virus as ones our human immune system could easily recognize. Meaning our bodies had already built up an immunity to it that it received either from a previous exposure to the virus, or by getting a flu shot. (Psalm 91) “This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”
Super viruses like the Spanish Flu are called Novel viruses (a virus not seen before). The difference being is that they come from ‘animals’. The World Health Organization has been given the job of tracking, sometimes for years, these Novel viruses found in animals. Typically, these viruses only affect the animal they originated with, such as pigs in the case of H1N1 or birds in the case of the Spanish flu or bats with the COVID-19. But once, one of these animal viruses mutates, and begins to transfer from animals to humans it becomes exponentially lethal. Why? Because the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus is animal not human. This leaves us with no natural or acquired immunity to fight off the virus within our systems until a vaccine is found that will immunize us against the virus. (Psalm 23) “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.”
This is serious stuff. Historically their have been at least 20 pandemics. Some of the well known plagues are the Bubonic Plague of 1350 which killed 200 M. Smallpox of 1520 which killed 56M. Cholera of 1817 which killed 1 M. Third Plague of 1885 which killed 12 M. Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed 40-50M. HIV/AIDS in 1981 which killed 25-35M. And COVID-19 which killed…? (Psalm 27) “The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid?”
If you had the entire historical list of Novel Viruses before you, you would see I only listed the seven deadliest. Others on the list varied in their death tolls, the reason being is when, the virus mutates and begins to transfer human to human it enters a new contagion phase. The severity of the new mutation will decide how contagious or deadly it will end up being. The Swine Flu of 2009 killed close to 200,000. It didn’t mutate as the Spanish Flu did in 1918. Its RNA was slower to mutate and subsequently attacked its host differently. (2 Timothy 1:7) “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
So today we are battling the Coronavirus which started in Wuhan, China with what scientist have attributed to the cause being from bats. At the close of 2019 the virus mutated and the bats began to infect people and within a couple of weeks it mutated again causing people to infect other people. Scientists have a name for this ability to quickly mutate, they call it ‘slippery’.
Each Nora Virus affects humans in a different way and this virus is no different. The Coronavirus can cause severe damage to human lungs. Already scientists have seen it mutate again, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain S and strain L, which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine. At first it hit the older communities the hardest, especially those people who had pre-existing medical conditions. Men make up nearly 60% of people with confirmed cases of the virus and more than 70% of those who died of COVID-19 were men. The question we are faced with is this, will the medical community be able to get ahead of it and find a vaccine before it mutates again. (Isaiah 41:10) “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
One interesting thing abut the Spanish Flu of 1918 was that it lowered the life expectancy of the country by ten years. This shows that the effects that the virus had on the human body were far more devastating than first thought. Doctors who are studying COVID-19 have found that the damage to the lungs of someone affected can possibly be quite severe and could be a factor later on in their lives.
The key thing we need to watch for is that there is not an insurgence of the virus once we think we have it beat. Therefore, it is important that we pray that a vaccine to combat the spread of this virus will be found soon that will bring a stop to the pandemic. May we all devote ourselves in a continuance of prayer. Each morning and throughout the day may words of prayer be on our lips for our governmental leaders, scientists and the medical community.
May our Hearts be on the Humbled and Exalted Christ
On the 15th of this month we will be celebrating Easter. For the many who are still social distancing from loved ones and for those who are in quarantine, coming together to share Easter with family and friends will not be happening. Still this gives us a chance to write a note to those we love and care about letting them know how they have blessed us personally. We can also ask God to give us an encouraging word for them that will lift their spirits and give them hope for the days and possibly months that are before us.
This scripture comes to mind found in Phil 2:5-11, “ Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
And from John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. Hallelujah- He is Risen!”
Lord, God guide our thoughts this day as you hold our hearts and lives in Your care. We pray that every test will become a testimony and every mess will become a message of God’s faithfulness and goodness in our lives.
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