Ezekiel 37:3 & 11: Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, for they had said, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.”

Ezekiel was a prophet of the sixth century who was taken into captivity and lived under state control for over 30 years. He saw his people give up hope, their bones dry and die, and the Lord asked him to resurrect those bones after the people said, “Our hope is lost. We are cut off completely.”

On eve of third week cancellation of church services and the second week of state imposed quarantine, there is a feeling of dry bones and death around us. And West Virginia and Fairmont appears to be at the center of it.

First, the state leads the nation in opioid death in proportion to its population, according to the Center for Disease Control. Second, the spike in suicide from 2015 to 2019 is the highest in the nation with 393 deaths per 100,000 persons. Third, the CDC, along with stories from the Christian Science Monitor, has listed WV, as the state that has lost more hope from despair because of health than any other state

And if that lack of hope isn’t enough, consider the happening in Fairmont, when Alecto gathered its 580 plus employees and told them the doors would close last Friday, leaving then high and dry from benefits that they had worked for and sacrificed their lives to. Even Jim Justice, who seemed so proud to broker the deal with WVU and Alecto, remained and still remains quiet on this tragedy.

So, it is as if Ezekiel is standing at the Marion County Courthouse ready to offer words of hope to those who bones are dry and died – memories of lost ones, of lack of medical care, and of this coronavirus. We are listening for words of hope today

Here it is. First, hope is specifically mentioned nearly 150 times in the Bible. The good news is that tragedy will result in triumph eventually; Ezekiel says “the spirit will triumph and flesh will inherit the land.”

Second, is that helpfulness of people, agencies, and institutions are lending hands where they can, cutting across religious, political, gender and race lines. Third, in Fairmont and Marion County we have the on-line information and services to assist so many with services, updating regularly, and offering hope with support groups, video and audio conferencing.

From the Newspaper to Marion County Strong, Chamber of Commerce, Employment Security, Health Department, Board of Education, and United Way of Marion and Taylor County (211), we don’t have to feel we have no hope. Medical Staffs, Emergency units, and personal caring has brought a lot of bones to new life. Churches are doing their part as well

When Martin Luther was dealing with the bubonic plague, he wrote the following: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what He has expected of and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person. I shall go freely as stated above. See, this is such a God fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Our hope is rooted finally in this Facebook post. “Being self-sequestered in the house for this time may get frustrating. Then remember poor Noah. Don’t feel bad. Noah was on that ark for 40 days and nights, but he had to carry around a manure shovel and get the job done.”

Stay healthy; stay safe; and stay hopeful.

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