Have we learned anything?

Our lives could be better spent than rejoicing over revenge on Al Qaeda or the fate of the marathon bomber suspects. Finding out why an excess of bomb-making chemical was being stored by the Texas fertilizer plant is important, but we must go on. We smell a lot of rats, but the question is how we get rid of the stink. In his bestseller book “The Harbinger,” Jonathan Cahn points out that after 9/11 several important leaders quoted Isaiah 9:10 in a misguided attempt to stir patriotism and encourage the nation: “The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.” The leaders’ intent was similar to Winston Churchill’s, “Never give up.” However, they fell into the trap that captures many: They quoted out of context for their own purposes. Isaiah’s words were the braggadocio of a people rebelling against God. Even if they knew their sin had separated them from his protection, they were shaking their fists and vowing to rebuild with even stronger materials.
As that famous commentator Paul Harvey used to say: “And now, for the rest of the story.” Following the people’s vow, God let them know they were bringing a curse upon themselves. Their enemies would not only become stronger but would unite against them — Isaiah 9:11 — amazingly similar to our own 9/11 encounter, or rather, non-encounter. Two April reports illustrate that warning signs are good — if heeded. The first, a study by a hospital accrediting group, found that workers become desensitized to constantly beeping alarms. Technology has advanced faster than codes to decipher meaning. Overworked staff may succumb to “alarm fatigue,” ignoring or misinterpreting the beeps, placing patients in jeopardy that has led to many documented and preventable deaths. The second study, first published in the New England Journal of Medicine, says U.S. doctors prescribe enough antibiotics to give them to 4 out of 5 Americans every year. This continues despite the fact that we have been warned for many years that overuse of antibiotics is weakening their power to fight diseases. The pattern for biblical warnings is to start slow then pick up with the speed of an avalanche. The time to heed is at the beginning, not the end. Terrorism spread by radical Islamic factions is upon us, and those spreading it appear to know more about their beliefs than most of us. An Associated News report about the Boston bombers said that the Tsarnaev brothers liked to debate religion, to crush beliefs with “facts.” Tamerlan Tsarnaev was quoted as calling the Bible a “cheap copy” of the Quran. Fact: Islam was birthed some 600 years after Christianity and 2,000 years after Judaism. If any copying was done, the Quran took its details from the Bible. Some statisticians gave a 0.000004 probability to the pile-up of the April 14 week’s events — “once in 4,808 years.” Nevertheless, they happened — last week. Instead of crowds dancing in the streets with American bravado over the suspected bombers’ end, we ought to fall to our knees and ask for God’s help. Have we learned anything? Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side. Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.