God in a Pandemic | Part 4

We’ve now pieced together a Biblical response that attempted to take the whole of Scripture into account as we looked at key verses. We ended up with a bit of each of the responses from part 2. God is completely sovereign; He willed this pandemic to occur. God is good AND He is just; the curse we feel in the Coronavirus is part of the curse God put on the world as punishment for sin. Evil truly exists, but that pain and suffering is part of God’s overarching, divine plan for His glory.
Today, I just want to add one final, Biblical piece to all of this. And this is everything. Adam and Eve certainly went through suffering; can you imagine going from paradise to corrupt creation? Joseph indeed went through a lot of suffering. Job went through immense suffering. Throughout the Old Testament we see instances of God wrath as the prophets proclaim, “This is God doing this!” And so it’s easy to assume that God no longer exists in a New Testament world. But the instance I want to point to this morning is the single greatest moment of God’s wrath, the worst evil committed in human history, the greatest moment of pain and suffering ever… and it happens in the New Testament.
I’m talking about the crucifixion of Christ, when humanity murdered the only innocent one, Son of God. Why do bad things happen to good people? It only happened this once! Romans 3:10 says otherwise that no one is good. No greater act of evil has ever occurred. This is the moment where God’s wrath for sin is poured out on Christ as He took our place. This is the moment of incredible suffering and pain on Jesus Christ on the cross.
Yes, this pandemic is causing suffering and pain and wickedness. I’m reminded even this week of the psychological toll of this global response. Make no mistake, 230,000 people dead in just a couple months is horrible. But let’s remember this: the cross was worse. And so if you take issue with me saying the good and sovereign God ordained this pandemic, perhaps we need to only look at the cross.
Look at what Peter says in Acts 2:22-23: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” And again in Acts 3:18: “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.” And then again in Acts 4:27-28: “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
The cross of Christ was foreordained, definitely planned, predestined by God to take place. This was His will from the beginning of time. And if we can see clearly from Scripture that this was within the sovereignty of God, then nothing could be excluded from it. When God appointed the time for Christ to die, there was no backup plan in case the humans didn’t carry it out like He was expecting. God didn’t give over sovereignty to Satan for a time and hope Satan had Jesus crucified. God didn’t simply foreknow that humans would do this and then responded by putting it in His plan to somehow make the best of it. This is the sovereignty of God in the cross of Christ.
But the cross is the perfect place to look for even more answers. The fulfillment of all of this is here in the cross. Do we have a powerful God? Yes, look at the cross. Do we have a good God, one who would send His Son to die for us so that we might have new life? Yes, look at the cross. Does evil exist? Yes, look at the cross! There wouldn’t be a cross if evil didn’t exist and if punishment wasn’t necessary. This is where it all comes together, this question of theodicy. Look at the cross.
So where does that leave us with this question? How could a good and powerful God rule over a world with evil? The existence of evil in a world ruled by a good and powerful God is to glorify Christ. It is His plan for the fullness of time.
For now, I’ll leave you with the words of this hymn, “When I Survey”:
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown