The day is over. You are driving home. You tune in your radio. You hear a little blurb about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. Itâ€™s not influenza, but three or four fellows are dead, and itâ€™s kind of interesting. Theyâ€™re sending some doctors over there to investigate it.
You donâ€™t think much about it, but on Sunday, coming home from church, you hear another radio spot. Only they say itâ€™s not three villagers, itâ€™s 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and itâ€™s on TV that night. CNN runs a little blurb; people are heading there from the disease center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.
By Monday morning when you get up, itâ€™s the lead story. For itâ€™s not just India; itâ€™s Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and before you know it, youâ€™re hearing this story everywhere and they have coined it now as “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?”
Thatâ€™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. That night you are watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translated from a French news program into English: “Thereâ€™s a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu.” It has come to Europe. Panic strikes. As best they can tell, once you get it, you have it for a week and you donâ€™t know it. Then you have four days of unbelievably, brutal symptoms. Then you die.
Britain closes its borders, but itâ€™s too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton, and its 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, Iâ€™m sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing.”
Within four days our nation has been lunged into unbelievable fear. People are selling little masks for your face. People are talking about what if it comes to this country, and preachers on Tuesday are saying, “Itâ€™s the scourge of God.”
Itâ€™s Wednesday night and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and says, “Turn on a radio, turn on a radio.” 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. People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. Itâ€™s as though itâ€™s just sweeping in from the borders. Then, all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. Itâ€™s going to take the blood of somebody who hasnâ€™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. Thatâ€™s all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospitals.”
When you and your family get down there late on that Friday night, there is a long line, and theyâ€™ve got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Your wife and your kids are out there, and they take your blood type and they say, “Wait here in the parking lot and if we call your name, you can be dismissed and go home.” You stand around scared with your neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on, and thinking this must be the end of the world. Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. Heâ€™s yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? He yells it again! And your son tugs on your jacket and says, “Daddy, thatâ€™s me.”
Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. “Wait a minute, hold it!” And they say, “Itâ€™s okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. He doesnâ€™t have the disease. We just want to make sure he has got the right type.” Five tense minutes later out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging one anotherâ€”some are even laughing. Itâ€™s the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week, and an old doctor walks up to you and says, “Thank you, sir. Your sonâ€™s blood type is perfect. Itâ€™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 didnâ€™t realize that the donor would be a minor and we need. . . we need you to sign a consent form.” You begin to sign and then you see that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. “H-h-h-how many pints?” And that is when the old doctorâ€™s smile fades and he says, “We had no idea it would be a little child. We werenâ€™t prepared. We need it all!” “But â€“ but!” “You donâ€™t understand. We are talking about the world here… Please sign. We – we need it all – we need it all!” “But canâ€™t you give him a transfusion?” “If we had clean blood, his type, we would. Can you sign? Would you sign?”
In numb silence you sign. 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? Whatâ€™s going on?” Can you take his hands and say, “Son, your mommy and I love you, and we would never ever let anything happen to you that didnâ€™t just have to be. Do you understand that?” And when that old doctor comes back in and says, “Iâ€™m sorry, weâ€™ve – weâ€™ve got to get started. People all over the world are dying.” Can you leave? Can you walk out while he is saying, “Dad? Mom? Dad? Why – why have you forsaken me?”
And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some folks sleep through it, and some folks donâ€™t even come because they go to the lake, and some folks come with a retentious smile and just pretend to care. Would you want to jump up and say, “MY SON DIED! DONâ€™T YOU CARE?”
Is that what God is saying? “MY SON DIED. DONâ€™T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE?” Father, seeing it from your eyes breaks our hearts. Maybe now we begin to comprehend the great love you have for us. Amen.