In due course, the question is going to be asked – the one as old as humanity itself. Why? Why is this pandemic upon us? Why are so many people dying? Do we deserve this? Is God there, is He cruel, does He care? Or is it anathema to even think in that way?
There are so many questions wrapped up in that, and though we will certainly not get all the answers we are looking for – our understanding will always be incomplete – maybe a bit of perspective will help.
The first thing I’d like to tackle is the Christian apologist position. The one that says that God did not cause this, but does allow it. I understand the argument and perhaps it does hold some water. But here is the thing – it seeks to remove responsibility from God at the cost of bringing up the question of impotence and indifference. And God is neither! I think we need to be very careful in using this argument, lest we inadvertently dethrone Him, trying to intercede when He needs no such ‘help’.
The ancient Hebrews probably had a better grasp when they wrestled with the problem of pain in the book of Job without seeking to dethrone the one who is the Lord of all things.
So on to perhaps the key question – how can a loving and caring God allow, or cause, such a disaster to happen?
First thing – we perhaps need to be careful not to be making God in our own image, but allow Him to remake us in His image. What we understand by love, care and goodness is very limited and warped! Spend some time in the Bible, let it read us, and we will begin to understand our limitations in comprehension.
Second thing – let’s turn the whole question around. Why would God not send this as judgment? Do we really have a good sense of the society in which we live? Can we see, or are we yet blinded? Do we understand that evil, blood and darkness dwells in the heart of our enlightened, tolerant, inclusive and diverse modern Babel?
Is it perhaps not more of a miracle that His hand has stayed thus far, in mercy and forbearance? Would it maybe be love that causes Him to act now? Remember He is also a God of Justice. Which is not opposed to love, but rather a facet of it. And, do we not see yet that this may well be the beginning of a mercy judgment?
Another question that might be asked is, Why did God allow X to die, they didn’t deserve it? I know these are potentially very emotive questions, and forgive me for not being a pastor, but let’s turn it around again. Did X deserve life in the first place? Did they do something wonderful to be awarded life as a reward? No – and conversely neither does death have to be seen as an explicit or implicit judgment upon them.
Remember, all men are appointed to die, and then the judgment. The One who gives us life, can also take it. He doesn’t actually owe us anything, and it is a conceit to think otherwise.
Maybe enough from me for a bit. Time for a word from my sponsor. Jesus faced the same, implicitly stated question.
Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.Luke 13 v4-5
Perhaps this would have been the perfect time for God Himself to answer the question that had been dogging humanity for millennia. But – He did not. Rather, He turned round the question and addressed it to us. Where do you stand? Will you stand against Me? Or repent and turn?
Let us be clear. He is not in the dock, we are. We do not have standing to judge, He does.
Sometimes we think we get to test Him, to see if he is worthy of our time, our respect, our belief. It is not that way. Rather, we are the ones who will come before Him, and who will be questioned.
And we need to submit to the reality that He chose not to answer the question. Perhaps because we are not equipped to understand the answer at the present time, perhaps for other reasons. But the question that does need answering is, in the midst of trouble, will you trust or walk away? Those are the paths open to us.
Let’s paraphrase Jesus’ response in the light of current events.
Or the thousands who died during the Covid-19 pandemic—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living throughout the world? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
These are not kind, pastoral words. But, they are words of life, and for those that respond they cut us deeply and bleed us into salvation.
I do believe that God warns the saints when something of significance is about to happen, or something He is about to do. Sometimes in the warning the reason why can be found. I have had premonitions and dreams about something impending that was not good–I have found many others have had dreams also. Some have described their premonitions as a storm being on the way. I believe this Covid-19 is the storm. I live in America in the state of Pennsylvania — the New York city morgue is reporting that they are running out of space and body bags. This thing is a plague and people die alone. Some are still not taking this seriously.
Oddly, on September 14, 2019, I had a very strange dream about England — briefly, it was night and I was watching people shopping and going about their business. I’ve no idea how I knew this was England — I just did. I noticed that the people began to stop their activities to look up into the sky. As I watched, I noticed a creeping darkness begin to approach us in the sky. I was alarmed, as at first, I thought it was a storm front approaching–I wondered why the people were not running for cover.
Later, I thought they stood there not running because of the suddenness of this strange event. Weirdly, I remember seeing in the sky 2 small flames — as the darkness approached them, it blotted out the 2 flames. As I watched this, in the dream I said out loud “Ok, now this is scaring me.” I then woke up. When I went back to sleep, I saw a digital clock with white letters and the time on it appeared like this: 1:28 :09. I have no idea what this means. A while later, the thought occurred to me that “as Britain goes, so goes America.” This Covid-19 crisis is different in that it is also affecting world economies — time will tell where this will lead. Some Christians have said they believe that more is coming — meaning catastrophe after catastrophe — we will see. God Bless and keep you safe.
Thanks Robin, you too! As we can see, this storm has affected us all, no matter which country or status we are. I have always viewed this kind of storm as a mercy judgment – I wrote more on that below – that what is trouble is also a blessing. It shakes us up from our apathy and idols and shows how flimsy are the things we rely on. This is a dangerous time for the enemy because of the potential for so many people to wake up.
That said, I don’t think many will….not yet….but a few. A harvest we can bring to the Lord and ask Him to bless and multiply.
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I was very taken with the third paragraph on the apologist position. I think I would now say that there is the law of sin and death running through our nations. Its outworkings as part of a fallen creation groaning for deliverance are always the same – death. That is the consistent stark reality of this age. The whys and wherefores of a particular eruption of death, from diseases to natural disasters, wars and so on, are not always clear. Whatever terminology we use, whether it is God lifting His hand, or however we choose to frame this, there will always be another view. They may sometimes not even be contradictory. Although that is hoping for a lot if several Christians are involved in the discussion! It is really the prophetic voice that is needed to decipher what is going on but the efficacy, reliability, and even the very presence of such a ministry in the UK church today, is another topic. Some voices may be coming close, but I haven’t heard anything this year that really sounds authoritative in any definitive sense of the word.
We all see through a glass, dimly, right? We are not capable of more. I was reading Job 37 today:
“Tell us what we should say to him; we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
Should he be told that I want to speak? Would anyone ask to be swallowed up? Now no one can look at the sun,bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean. Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty. The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, people revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”
It’s not that we will not continue to wrestle with these questions, like Jacob, it is who we are. But at the same time we have to understand we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness. We have to know our limitations and who it is that is present in the dock.
As far as the prophetic voice I agree, I wish it were heard more widely. There is so much confusion, error, indifference and sometimes hostility. Perhaps one of the best markers of a potentially authentic voice is that it will be unlikely to be received by the majority of the generation to which it is intended!
In the end, I think the prophetic voice is one of the harshest and kindest voices there are. As I said here (https://theagetocome.net/on-prophetic-speaking/) the heart of a prophets message is one of *hope*. That beyond the battlegrounds and desolations of the human heart lies a garden of Hope that is tended by the Carer of our souls.
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