It’s the same question on many people’s mind: Why would a good God allow a global pandemic like the Coronavirus? How do you deal with this question? ◊
As this virus spreads further throughout the globe this week and many of us are at various levels of social lockdown, the question continues to be raised in many quarters, from churches, social media, and family living rooms, as to God’s purposeful hand and reasons for bringing such suffering to so many people that He supposedly loves. Specifically, the question is: “So, why would a good God allow this?”
Great question. Lots of varied answers out there.
Interesting how we always ask about God in times of pain and suffering, and forget all about Him (or take things for granted) in times of peace and plenty. It’s also interesting how many, including some pastors, always relate it to some last days or end times scenario and cite words from Jesus in Matthew 24 about birth pangs and coming tribulation and apocalyptic scenes from the Book of Revelation. These references seem to stir some level of fascination within us to think that we could be the generation that sees the ending of the world.
And then the major calamitous event passes and we all settle down and go on with our lives. There’s got to be more to all of this.
So What’s the Answer?
At the risk of offending some Christians and their firmly-held end times belief system, I do not believe the premise that we are on the brink of global extermination with wars and rumors of wars…famines and earthquakes…and days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven (Matthew 24:6, 8, 29). No, I do not believe that this coronavirus is about end times eschatology at all. Nor is it tied to any popular theory about the Rapture, Great Tribulation, and the Battle of Armageddon. At the end of this article I have listed several past Biblical Viewpoints that address these popular but misguided notions that I too used to believe wholeheartedly.1
No, this virus is simply about God and Mankind. God is God, Holy and Almighty, who creates and destroys, punishes and rewards, allows and obstructs. He is worthy to be worshiped and feared by all of Mankind, His creation.
As outlined last week, the Bible is fully evident of God’s hand in judgment and justice throughout the Old and New Testament. This coronavirus may or may not be another example of God’s judgment on a defiant world. As shown, God’s done it before. Specifically regarding plagues and pestilence, if one looks in the Scriptures as well as human history books, there are many significant examples of horrific pandemic occurrences that have destroyed civilizations and altered human history:
- 430 BC – Athens – two-thirds of the population died in Athens, Greece during this pandemic that also struck Libya, Ethiopia, and Egypt during the Peloponnesian War. Led to the Spartans defeat of the Athians.
- 165 AD – Antonine Plague – a smallpox epidemic that began with the Huns in Germany and then passed to the Romans and the entire Roman Empire, even claiming the life of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- 250 AD – Cyprian Plague – started in Ethiopia and then moved northward with recurring outbreaks to even Britain and impacted the alliance with the Saxons against the Scots.
- 541 AD – Justinian Plague – started in Egypt then spread throughout the Byzantine Empire and throughout the Mediterranean. The apocalyptic atmosphere spurred on the rapid spread of Christianity. Recurrences over two centuries eventually killed about 50 million people or over 25% of the world population.
- 1100’s – Leprosy – though leprosy was around during the days of Christ, this grew into a pandemic in Europe in the Middle Ages.
- 1350 – The Black Death – this bubonic plague started in Asia and moved west into Europe in caravans resulting in the death of one-third of the world population. The British feudal system collapsed changed economic circumstances and demographics. The Vikings halted exploration of North America.
- 1492 – The Columbian Exchange – with the arrival of the Spanish in the Caribbean, diseases such as smallpox, measles and bubonic plague were passed to native populations by Europeans throughout north and south American continents. It is estimated that 56 million Native Americans in the 16th and 17th centuries died from diseases.
- 1665- The Great Plague of London – another bubonic plague led to the deaths of 20% of London’s population.
- 1817 – First Cholera Pandemic – the first of seven cholera pandemics over the next 150 years originated in Russian where 1 million people died. It was later spread by British soldiers to India were millions more died.
- 1855 – The Third Plague Pandemic – starting China, the bubonic plague claimed 15 million victims. This plague led to rebellions in China and even India.
- 1889 – Russian Flu – the first significant flu pandemic started in Siberia and moved west to the rest of Europe over to North America and Africa, killing 360,000.
- 1928 – Spanish Flu – an avian-born flu originated in China and spread around the world resulting in 50 million deaths. Called the Spanish Flu due to wire service reports coming out of Madrid.
- 1957 – Asian Flu – starting in Hong Kong and spreading throughout China and then the US and England. Over 1.1 million deaths globally; 116,000 in the US.
- 1981 – HIV/AIDS – identified in 1981 in American gay communities, originated from a chimpanzee virus in West Africa in the 1920s; spread to Haiti in the 1960s, then to New York and San Francisco in the 1970s.
- 2003 – SARS – started in China possibly with bats, spread to 26 countries, infecting 8,000 people with 774 deaths.. Quarantine efforts were first implemented by global health professionals to keep this and other diseases like H1N1, Ebola and Zika under control.2
This is a fairly sobering list. Yes, pain and suffering has always been a part of human existence in a sinful and cursed world. Why would we think otherwise in assessing this very real experience with the coronavirus today?
But God has given us His answers in the Bible. Out of God’s pure love, mankind has been given free will to choose and follow God or not. Even His chosen people, the Jews, who were merely handpicked to produce His Son, Jesus, as the Redeemer of the world who would remove the curse once and for all, were a hard-headed and defiantly disobedient people.
Yet God loved them greatly. And He loves us greatly too. We, all Gentiles throughout the world who too can claim Christ as our Redeemer and be assured a place in eternity, according to the promises of His Word. And while we will not be free from sin, disease, and death in this life, we can live with the peace and love of God which transcends anything this world offers, even in the midst of pain and tragedy.
Until one day the Lord will come again, in one fell swoop and final judgment.
Can you answer the question “Why God?”
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
1 Rapture Miscalculations, by Michael Griego, BiblicalViewpoint.com, March 23, 2013
More Rapture Miscalculations, by Michael Griego, BiblicalViewpoint.com, August 17, 2013
‘Last Days’ Understanding, by Michael Griego, BiblicalViewpoint.com, August 24, 2013
Jesus and the Book of Revelation, by Michael Griego, BiblicalViewpoint.com, May 1, 2015
The Fallacies of Blood Moons, Harbingers, and the Shemitah, by Michael Griego, Biblicalviewpoint.com, September 18, 2015
Armageddon: What’s the Truth?, by Michael Griego, BiblicalViewpoint.com, June 10, 2016
2 Pandemics That Changed History, https://www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/pandemics-timeline, March 20, 2020.