Teach us to number our days
that we might apply our hearts to wisdom
Between Oct. 1st. and Feb. 1st. 1919 over 33,000 residents of Washington DC contracted "the Spanish Flu" - 2,895 citizens of the city died. It was a devastating time for the city, leading officials to ban, among other things church services in Washington DC.
Here are comments by Pastor Grimke of 15th. Presbyterian Church Washington DC at the time.
1. Power of God.
I have been impressed with the ease with which large portions of the population may be wiped out in spite of the skill of man and all the resources of science. How easy it would be for God to wipe out the whole human race, in this way, if He wanted to.
2. Civil Liberties.
The extraordinary exercise of power was resorted to in closing the theatre, schools, churches, in forbidding all gatherings of any considerable number of people indoors and outdoors. It seems to me, however, in a matter like this it is always wise to submit to such restrictions for the time being. If, as a matter of fact, it was dangerous to meet in various venues, it was no less dangerous to meet in churches. The fact that churches were places of worship, and the others not , would not affect in the least the health question involved. If avoiding social contact lessens the danger of being infected, do not needlessly run into danger, and expect God to protect you.
3. True and Eternal Life in Christ.
God in this has been reminding us of the account we must soon give to Him. He has been projecting before us in a way to startle us, the thought of eternity. All need to weigh carefully the question of eternal life and seek the Lord while He may yet be found.
During the epidemic I was examining my own heart to see how far my faith was helping me to be calm, self-possessed. It is a good time for those of us who are Christians to examine ourselves to see exactly how it is with us, whether the foundation which we are building is a solid one - whether our faith is really resting upon Christ. I still feel that one important function of this epidemic will be lost if it does not lead to a careful heart - searching on our part.
These reflections may well speak to our hearts a century after they were delivered. Our God changes not, and the lessons shared by Grimke in the midst of one epidemic are lessons we would do well to prayerfully consider.
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord