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On Vaccinations

I read in the news that the evangelical groups are frequently the most hesitant about getting a vaccination to help the spread or infection by COVID-19. Although what I have to say will apply to any group, this is addressed to "my" group.

First, some basics.

  1. God is on His throne.
  2. He can and does heal whom He chooses to heal for His own purposes.
  3. Faith is a part of the healing process along with admitting your sins and getting right with Him.

Not going to debate those things. You can look up the promises yourself. Read James 5 to get started.

The thing is, taking a vaccine doesn't mean you don't have faith. I'd bet that most everyone who has attended any number of church services has heard the parable of the drowning man. He's climbing higher in his property as the waters rise and ends up on the roof of his house. First a truck comes by and offers to take him to a safe place. Then a rowboat comes by and offers him safety. Finally, from his roof, a helicopter comes by offering safety. He keeps maintaining that God will save him as the waters rise. Finally, he is washed away and drowns. When he gets to heaven, he asks God why He didn't save him. God replies that he sent the truck, the rowboat, and the helicopter...

We can all see the wisdom in that parable, and regardless of how it is interpreted - the man wanting God to remove the flood waters to not only save him but his things, or just pride in wanting God to act a certain way - it is a good story. Why can't all, y'all see the vaccinations in the same light as the truck, the rowboat, or the helicopter.

Even if the man had taken one of the options to safe himself, it wasn't 100% sure that he would live. The truck could have hit a deep spot in the road and been flooded. The rowboat could have gotten swamped. The helicopter could have snagged a power line and went down. But being washed away in a rising flood was just stupid after people had come by to save you. Of course you can always hope the flood waters will stop rising... but that isn't guaranteed to happen - especially in a pandemic. Brazil and India are having huge problems right now, and we aren't doing particularly great in parts of the U.S. either.

It is absolutely true that all vaccines carry some risk. Some vaccinations carry risks of severe allergic reactions which can sometimes cause death. But the probabilities that will happen are very low. The protection they provide is great individually. The protection provided by having everyone possible vaccinated is even greater by providing a herd immunity. It helps protect those who for a particular medical reason cannot take the vaccine.

So back to the faith issue. If you feel that taking a vaccine somehow diminishes your faith in God, then have faith in God that when taking the vaccine you won't be one of the people who has any severe side effects. Or have faith in God that if you do have a severe side effect that He will see you through it safely. There is much you can have faith in while still helping to protect everyone else by achieving herd immunity.

The thing with COVID-19 in most people's minds is that it isn't polio or some other horrible disease that the world has been fighting for a long time. You may think of it as just the flu and maybe you've had the flu before and survived. It's true that lots of people have had COVID-19 and survived. Most have, in fact. In the 32,000,000+ cases in the United States, almost 25,000,000 people survived. But the thing you need to keep in mind is that as of this writing, over 580,000 people in the United States died from COVID-19. That's bigger than the population of Wyoming. Worldwide, over 3,000,000 have died. Of those who didn't die, there are many who are having what may be life long problems because they got infected. Don't be one of the statistics. The hospitalization costs have been awful for those who have needed it, and the clogging of the system due to COVID-19 patients competing for space has pushed a lot of other people to death or disability because they couldn't get a bed. They've had to put off surgeries that may have been critical or which could have given a higher quality of life because there was no space available. And the impact on the world economy has been horrific.

Viruses mutate all the time. The variant in Brazil is particularly bad and it is present in many states at this time. It's more contagious than what we had at first and is affecting wider age groups. The world needs as many people vaccinated as possible as fast as possible to try to eliminate the threat COVID-19 faces or at least reduce it to manageable levels. The hospital workers need a break.

Taking a vaccination isn't a lack of faith issue. Think of the rest of your life as being a dark cave you have to walk through. It's dark because you can't see the future. Oh, eventually there's a bright light of heaven calling (near or far away depending on your age and circumstances), but the path from here to there is dark. The cave is filled with poisonous snakes. Where you live in the world just causes the number of snakes to vary. How you live in the world - very social - very reclusive - just adjusts the number of them you're going to step on as you walk toward heaven. If you wear a mask, socially distance, don't go out in public much - you may not step on many. If you are socially active and don't take protective steps you're going to step on quite a few. The vaccine is like a pair of leather boots someone has given you - mostly for free that you can put on. They might not be your size and might hurt your feet. They might not be thick enough to protect you from a really determined snake. They may not go far enough up your legs to protect you from a lucky strike. But they're boots. Your alternative is to go barefoot. Wear the boots. Increase your chances that you are protected through this dangerous passage.

And remember COVID-19 when you think of John as he talks of pale horse in Revelation 6:8. Many scoff at the book of Revelation and the things it says will happen. Then a pandemic comes along and you realize how little control modern man has over the world - even when the world is mostly functioning. Think of what COVID-19 would be like with God's wrath being poured out, the rapture having already happened and all the Christians gone with the resulting infrastructure mess that is going to cause.

Wear the pair of boots you've been given if you don't have any valid medical reason not to do so. Put them on for the sake of those who can't wear boots. Have faith that you won't have any bad reaction to wearing the boots. And if you haven't been able to find a pair of boots yet - keep looking. They're making as many pairs as they can.

Faith isn't unimportant. But don't forget about the trucks, rowboats, and helicopters that God does send. And wear your mask and socially distance whenever possible, regardless of local regulations.

I have searched for the original storyteller of the truck, boat, and helicopter story but it appears in many forms with many variations and I haven't been successful.