God’s Word is there to help us see past appearances and plunge us into the reality. Such must be the case with interpreting events unfolding around us. Is this pandemic a manifestation of God’s judgment? Luke 13 provides a good starting point.
In vv. 1-5, Jesus is asked to assess the theological reasons for two recent tragedies. And he uses the occasion to warn people about the need to repent. The warning is: those who do not repent will perish.
It suggests there was a faulty view circulating among the crowds. They took the absence of tragedy in their own lives as a sign of God’s approval. But Jesus is quick to correct this saying, in essence, “your sense of security is wrong and the issue of perishing is only a matter of time.” Those who perished in these disasters were not more guilty than those who survived, but those who survived needed to wake up and take a serious look at their relationship with the Lord.
So if Jesus was sitting next to you and you asked him, “Jesus, how are things between the two of us?” What would his answer be?
A truly good God would not want COVID-19 to exist.
An all-powerful God would not allow COVID-19 to exist.
Therefore, a God who is both good and powerful cannot exist.
So goes the logic.
But there is a hidden premise buried inside the argument. The premise is: God does not have any good reasons to allow COVID-19 to exist. But suppose someone has a very strong desire for something and is able to obtain that thing, but doesn’t act on it because he has reasons for not doing so that appear to outweigh the desirability of the thing. How do we know it doesn’t work this way with God? Might God have reasons for allowing COVID-19 to exist that in his mind outweigh the desirability of its non-existence?
The problem of suffering used to be a personal struggle for me until I began to realize some of that struggle comes from intellectual arrogance. Those who argue against the existence of God based on COVID-19 seem to say, “If I can’t see any reasons God might have for permitting it, then he doesn’t have any.”
But a God who is infinitely more powerful than me would also be infinitely more knowledgeable than me. I began to realize that if God is infinitely knowledgeable, why couldn’t he have morally sufficient reasons for allowing this I can’t think of?
This is why, in the end, to believe that a truly good and all-powerful God exists in a world of COVID-19 requires humility.
A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride… - Proverbs 14:3
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” - Psalm 14:1