The Land of Opportunities. Alive series, 29

Disinfecting luggage and personal belongings

Around 1815, the year the Napoleonic wars were terminated, numerous people from Ireland and Great Britain left their old world for the new world in North America. They were tired of overpopulation, unemployment, poverty and famines due to failed harvests. At least North America was the land of opportunity!

They had no idea what trials they would be facing in North America. First of all, the trip on a cargo ship was slow and overcrowded, the perfect breeding grounds for contagious disease. The arrival of shiploads of contaminated immigrants was a nightmare for the authorities in North America. In Canada, a quarantine station was established on Grosse Ile, just outside of Quebec City. No way would cholera-infected immigrants be allowed into Quebec! Imagine an epidemic!

All ships had to stop for inspection. Those suspected of being infected, as well as anyone who had contact with them, were placed into quarantine. All their belongings were disinfected, the ship was disinfected, the cargo was sanitized. These immigrants were not welcomed with open arms. In fact they endured fearful days and nights, not knowing what to expect. Did they have the disease or did they not? They started to doubt.

The inhabitants of Quebec were also quite fearful of these diseases that could easily lead to death. Everybody was apprehensive and for good reason. Despite all these precautions, their measures proved ineffective. In 1832, 3,851 citizens of Quebec died of cholera, with another 1,885 fatalities in Montreal. Fear was truly rampant in those days!

Even now, many face disease that could lead to death. The fear has not diminished at all, even after all these centuries.

Then there are other threats as well: wars, terrorists . . .

To be truly alive means we have nothing to fear, not even death. We are fearless! After all, Jesus showed us the way to eternity. One day we will wake up to a reality that is way beyond our imagination: We will be in the presence of the One who willingly died for us. Wow! We truly have nothing to fear!

The Good News is true: "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Heb 2:14-15, NIV2)

Death is not a natural consequence. We were created to live forever. Death started when the evil one succeeded in making humanity doubt our Heavenly Father, and instead, he filled our minds with pride and self-interest (See Gen 3:1-25). How dreadful to believe such words: "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:5, NIV2). How could our forefathers believe such a lie?

But are we any better? How many among us have not fallen for lies, believing them to be true?

Examples: Electricity representative selling us a contract for cheaper rates; Life insurance agents promising us the moon; Drugs that will lead us to heavenly bliss; The promise of a worthwhile goal when joining terrorist groups; Spam promising us a fortune . . .

How gullible we are to believe such lies! No wonder so many live in fear!

All of these lies were overcome when Jesus paid the price for our deceptive wanderings. Now we have the certitude that death is not the end. We have received a promise that makes us unshakable: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-" (Eph 2:8, NIV2)

We know now where we are heading. Nothing can lead us in the wrong direction. Jesus is our guide: "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved." (John 10:9, NIV2)

Who do we believe? Fear? Or the promises of the One who willingly died for us?

The promised land isn't on this planet. It's way up yonder!

Rob Chaffart

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