God in a Pandemic | Part 5

This is the final part to this conversation. In the end, it’s my hope that I’ve made you think about this at least, and perhaps started a conversation. Maybe you disagree with me, that’s fine. As long as you’re thinking hard about it, going to Scripture.
So first, let’s wrap up by reviewing my attempt at answering this question: How can a good and powerful God rule over a world with evil? Where is God in a pandemic? What we’ve seen in Scripture is that God did not simply step back and allow the Coronavirus. He didn’t give over the reins to someone else. He didn’t limit His goodness to us based on what we choose. And this isn’t just goodness disguised as evil. God is completely sovereign with His very hands in everything that’s occurring. He is completely good, sometimes in ways that are higher than ours. And real suffering and evil exists. How can we see all of these things at once? Look at the cross.
Finally, where does leave us? How can this answer fuel us toward holy living? It’s great to talk about it in the theoretical, but where does it show up in the practical? I have a few things for you, as I’m sure you have a few things you’ve come up with yourselves.
First, because of humanity’s sin, this world is under a curse. Creation is groaning because of God who subjected it to His wrath. The Coronavirus is part of God’s judgment on the world. One author I read asks this interesting question, “How come God cursed us physically for a wrongdoing of the will, of the soul?” Because it’s hard for us to be constantly aware of our spiritually failings and weaknesses. We will hardly lose sleep over the grievousness of our sin. But if a pandemic occurs, if sickness occurs, if disease and aging occurs, then He has our attention. So let us use this time to repent. Whether you are a Christian or not, let us remember the disease of our sin and repent and call out for mercy. If you’re a child of God, this is not punishment for you, there is no wrath left for you, it’s all been taken by Christ. But it is a purifying moment for you. Become more aware of your sin, see the forgiveness offered by Christ, and repent.
Second, in this same line, physical suffering drives us in many ways towards spiritual restoration. Don’t waste times of suffering. See how God is teaching us and molding us. No, it is not pleasant, and it’s not just good disguised as evil. But what the world meant for evil, God meant for good. Don’t rush through suffering just to get back to comfort. See how God means it for good in your life by increasing your trust, extending your patience, exercising compassion, building your dependence on Him, or so many other things. Because Christ suffered more than all of us, and we are called to be like Christ, very often suffering is a shortcut to becoming like Christ.
Third, even though we know what God is up to in the world in a big overarching sense, we still are left wondering how the little pieces of suffering fit into that. We have been given a glimpse at the divine perspective, but we still live from the human perspective. It’s like we’re driving on dark road at night, and our headlights illuminate what’s in front of us, the things that we know God has revealed to us and called us to do. But we can take comfort in the fact that God sees the whole route like Google maps. So in this, we have a tension between lament and grieving, and peace and comfort. We can be honest about the trials and griefs. But we can also find peace in the presence and working of God. Lament, but not without hope.
Fourth, think about this, as people cry out for help and answers in the midst of suffering, we all must be ready pastorally to be there for them. As you all know from experience, a wrong word in a time of distress can compound the suffering. But if we are going to give real help, we can look to what we’ve learned seen in this study for how to care for others going through suffering. I think a lot of us do this naturally without realizing it, but it’s also something we can work on. Pray for wisdom to know which direction you need to lean on with a friend in trial. Do you need to remind them that God is powerful, sovereign, in control? Do you need to remind them that God is good, compassionate, present? Do you need to commiserate with them that evil is real, and the pain is deep? Or do you need to sit in silence, in the mystery, and lament to find hope?
I hope I’ve given you a chance to consider a Christ-centered theodicy. God is in control, and He is good, and evil exists. But someday we will see how God is weaving all of this together for the glory of Christ in this world. Let us take heart during a time of global suffering that we know the end of the story: Christ is glorified as King over all. And let us take strength from the fact that by God’s grace we can work towards that in our lives now, whether in comfort or in trial.
Let me leave you one final time with the words of a modern hymn called “All Glory Be to Christ” by Kings Kaleidoscope. It’s to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. And I highly recommend you listen to this on repeat today.
Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive
To you who boast tomorrow’s gain
Tell me what is your life
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ
All glory be to Christ our king
All glory be to Christ
His rule and reign we’ll ever sing
All glory be to Christ
Thank you for joining me in this conversation. I’m so thankful we could look into Scripture together and consider this difficult topic. I pray that God sustains you in this time, and may His grace overflow to you and yours.