When truly courageous people fly into the teeth of a storm their uncommon valor is impossible to miss. But every person entering the Hot Zone of a plague isn’t courageous; some don’t know what’s happening. They’ve heard nothing about an outbreak; they’re clueless about the epidemic. They may seem fearless but they’re not; they’re oblivious. They don’t know they’re at risk; they don’t know they’re vulnerable. They’re ignorant, not courageous. They’re at risk and don’t know enough to be afraid.
People must recognize a threat before they can courageously attack it.
A plague swept over Carthage in A.D. 252. The devastation was horrifying. Pagans fled, abandoning their suffering family and friends as they tried to escape the destruction. In Rome, during the worst of the plague, 5,000 people were dying every day. In Carthage the bodies of the dead were piled everywhere. Nobody escaped the stench of death without abandoning the city. The hopeless forsook all others in their efforts to save themselves. They stacked carcasses and fled in terror.
But not everyone fled.
Cyprian, the Christian Bishop of Carthage, gathered his congregation and led them into the diseased city. They knew the risks but refused to abandon the diseased and dying. Those Christians tended the sick, buried the dead and courageously risked their lives to save their city from pestilence and destruction.
It takes courage to do what needs to be done when what needs to be done isn't what everyone else wants to do.
They had courage.
They knew Jesus.
Matthew 25:34-40 - Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’