A 22-year-old American tourist made headlines recently when she was killed by a lion in a South African wildlife park. Now the driver of the vehicle has given his account of the tragedy. According to him, the vehicle’s windows were up when they entered the park. He says the woman rolled down her window when they approached a lion, which then mauled her through the open window. He called for an ambulance and tried to stop her bleeding, but she died shortly thereafter.
This tragedy is also a parable of our times. It seems that everywhere we turn, lions are lurking. Consider four examples.
One: deaths from MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) continue to mount in South Korea as schools close, people commute while wearing face masks, and mandatory quarantines take effect. Health officials are especially worried that the virus could mutate to an even more deadly form.
Two: a woman is being treated at the National Institutes of Health for what officials call an “extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.” They are seeking others with whom she may have come in contact while flying from India and inside the United States. Her form of tuberculosis is especially alarming, as it resists medications which treat TB most effectively.
Three: the conflict with Islamic jihadism continues to intensify. Donald Rumsfeld, one of the staunchest defenders of the Iraq War, now says that the goal of creating a democracy in that country was “unrealistic.” He continues to defend the decision to eliminate Saddam Hussein, however. He also states that removing former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was a mistake because it destabilized the region.
Four: a new Gallup study reports that a record high percentage of Americans are now accepting of same-sex marriage, having a baby outside of marriage, and premarital sex. Americans are also growing more accepting of polygamy and cloning humans.
In uncertain times like these, a biblical text I encountered today seems especially appropriate. God’s word in Isaiah 33 was revealed to a nation facing calamity at the hands of Assyria, the superpower which had already destroyed the 10 northern tribes of Israel. Facing such disaster, the people were assured: “The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness” (v. 5).
Further, the prophet promised, “he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge” (v. 6a). What did they need to do in order to receive such provision and blessing? “The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure” (v. 6b). When they chose to fear, reverence, and trust God as their “treasure,” their faith would become fact.
Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Don’t open your window to him. Instead, when you make God “the stability of your times,” his strength will be yours. And your witness will show our conflicted and chaotic culture the pathway to peace.