In times of great crisis, it’s natural and normal for people to ponder and pose any number of questions. Lately, I’ve been asked how an all-powerful God would allow the coronavirus to wreak such havoc clear across the world.
This virus has claimed the lives of thousands and ravaged hundreds of thousands more.
Many people want to know why God won’t stop it. Where is He in the middle of this global pandemic?
Theological questions of this nature have been asked, I suspect, since the beginning of time. Unexplained tragedy, unspeakable suffering and inconceivable circumstances of all kinds have marked humanity down through the years. It’s actually only been in recent years that we’ve enjoyed relative peace and prosperity across the globe.
Crack open a history book and you’ll soon discover that as dire and as difficult as things may seem today, the world has faced much worse in the past.
One of the deadliest pandemics occurred between A.D. 249 and 262, when up to 5,000 people in Rome died – per day. Incidentally, while many non-Christians concentrated on saving only themselves back then, it was the Christians who remained and served those who were suffering.
Back in the 1600s, there was a Lutheran German pastor named Martin Rinkart. He found himself ministering in the midst of horrendous famine and disease. At one point, he was the only pastor left in his town and conducted up to 50 funerals in a single day.
Yet, the world may never have remembered Rinkert, if not for him writing the well-known hymn, “Nun danket alle Gott” – otherwise known as, “Now, Thank We All Our God.”
As a Christian, I believe God is in the middle of everything – the good and the bad – and yes, even COVID-19. As sovereign over all things, He remains in full and complete control.
To be clear, no evil comes from God – but nor can any evil happen without His permission.
Despite all the strife and suffering, God is there – because He is everywhere.
God is currently in every hospital, strengthening doctors, nurses and medical personnel as they treat the sick and comfort the dying.
God is working through the government’s response to this crisis, providing President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force wisdom and guidance as they plot and plan their attack on this lethal pathogen.
If you look at the massive humanitarian effort that’s unfolding not only in this country but all across the world, you’ll see God — often in the form of His devoted servants — in the middle of blood drives, food donations and churches and businesses that are opening their parking lots for drive-through testing locations.
The English writer C.S. Lewis attempted to tackle the theological and philosophical conundrum of God’s role in suffering in many of his writings, but especially in his book, “The Problem of Pain.”
He posed the question somewhat differently, though, when he asked rhetorically, “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”
The answer to that question is easy – I just don’t know. But I do know that suffering is a bit like exercise – it either makes us weaker or stronger – it doesn’t leave us the same. When the coronavirus crisis passes – and it will – the question will be whether we’re stronger or weaker for having endured it.
By the way, here is what you should know about Martin Rinkart’s famous hymn, a tune we sing in a spirit of gratitude, often around Thanksgiving: It was written in the midst of the great plague he and his countrymen were enduring, proving once again that struggle and suffering may knock us down, but God will always be there to lift us up when we turn to Him, whether in this life or the next.