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May 24, 2020

Profound questions naturally arise in the face of events like the global spread of the coronavirus. Why does God allow such a disease and why doesn't He stop it, since He is omnipotent? Could He … would He … have designed such an event? Though answers to every question certainly cannot be given, the Bible does give us insight into why God allows and even decrees horrible, painful things in His creation.

We must begin with the truth about God's sovereignty. He rules over His creation, including birth and death (Deut 32:39; 1 Sam 2:6). In fact, without being the cause of sin, God governs everything in His universe by His majestic, and sometimes mysterious, sovereignty (Eph 1:11). God's plan includes calamities, which He brings (Job 42:11; Isa 10:5-7; 45:7; Amos 3:6; Nahum 1:3-6). So if God could have prevented the deadly virus, why would He allow and even determine such a horror to take place? There is no single answer to that question. The answers must be seen on several levels.

(1) Warning … The horrible deaths described in Luke 13:1-5 were a warning to others that death comes to all and if there is no repentance, then a person will perish forever. In working all things after the counsel of His will, God’s judgment sometimes takes the form of widespread death. Unsettling deaths, like we have heard about, are warnings to the living of the brevity of life, the certainty of death, the ensuing judgment, and the necessity of Christ.

(2) Victory … Death is gain for Christians (Psa 116:15; Phil 1:21; 2 Cor 5:4-8). For Christians who died from the coronavirus, it was the ultimate victory for them. They now live in an infinitely greater life, enjoying the very presence of God forever. God has innumerable ways to bring His people home to Himself for all eternity, including various diseases.

(3) Judgment … The death of the ungodly is God's judgment (Jn 3:36; the great flood; Sodom and Gomorrah). There comes a day of justice for the wicked and God determines when that day is and how it comes. This is, by far, the greatest horror of the spread of the coronavirus … not the loss of physical life … but the loss of tens of thousands of souls in hell forever.

(4) Means of Salvation … Through trouble and suffering, people are humbled before God and come to trust in Christ. Examples of this are Paul (Acts 9:8,9), Rahab (Josh 2:8-13), John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”), and Charles Colson. C.S. Lewis said that whereas God whispers to us in our pleasures, He shouts to us in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

(5) Lesson … Through pain, the faith of Christians is deepened and they are made more fit for service (Job 42:1-6; Rom 5:1-5; Heb 12:11; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet 1:3-7). Charles Spurgeon wrote, "God gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction. All the grace I have got in any of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good I have received from my sorrows and pains and griefs, is altogether incalculable."

Earthly security is no lasting security. Life is surprisingly fragile and we are in control of very little. Everything, including our next breath, rests on the grace of God. "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy" (1 Tim 6:17). "He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness" (Psa 147:10,11). Only Jesus Christ is security.

The people who have died from the coronavirus were not the greatest sinners on the earth. One searching question is, "How have we responded to the mercy God has shown to us?" The call to unbelievers is to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. The call to Christians is to honor God with every day of our lives and trust Him in all things, without fear.

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