If God is good and all-powerful, He wouldn’t allow suffering. That’s what many people think, especially during this season of Covid-19. People wonder how God could allow this, or things like earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes, to ravage our world. Others wonder why He sent this into the world. We may never know if this is an attack by Satan or a test from God, but that should not change our response to this pandemic or any trial. It also doesn’t need to threaten our faith.
This is not the first time the world has seen something like Covid-19. It is important to understand that a pandemic happens about every century. The Spanish Flu was almost exactly 100 years ago in 1918 and killed 40-50 million. In 1885, the Third Plaque killed 12 million. A Cholera outbreak in 1717 killed about 1 million. The Italian Plaque killed 1 million in 1629. In 1520, Smallpox killed 56 million. And the most famous of them all, the Black Plaque of 1347 killed 200 million. (Stats from the). Keep in mind that as you go back in time, the population of the world gets smaller.
We live in a broken world. Disease and death result from living in this sinful condition. Jesus came to save us from the ultimate consequences of that condition, but not to remove all traces of the taint of sin from our lives in this life.
Many see the sickness and death around us wonder how an all-loving God could allow such a thing. Or they may decide God is not powerful enough to stop Covid (the Spanish Flu, the Plaque, earthquakes, etc). Satan tries to get Christians to think if they have faith then things like Covid will not touch them or their families. Then when trouble comes, and it will, doubt comes along with it. Satan uses this doubt to turn many away from God, or to drive a wedge between them and God to start pushing them away from Him. He wants you to be angry at God for this disease when the real source of the problem is Satan himself. If not for sin, death and disease would not be a problem. And we know who helped get sin into this creation.
Satan also wants us to think this pain and suffering is pointless. That is far from the truth. Times like these force us to realize we are not as powerful or as in control as we foolishly thought we were. It should drive us toward God to seek the peace that only He can offer through any trial. These difficult times force us to choose. Will our faith grow stronger or will we start turning from that faith? Trials force change. Change can be good. Stagnation is never good.
What is the source of these plaques? We do not know for sure, but we see in the book of Job that Satan had power over a storm, lightning, strong winds, and groups of people to cause all these to do his bidding. Satan has power in this world, and he will use that power to cause chaos and destruction. God is not the only one who has the power to cause things like these, but He is typically the one everyone blames.
Mankind may also be to blame for some of the natural suffering we endure. We have messed up the environment. We have killed off animal species. We chose to live in areas of the world that are clearly unsafe. Science has reached into areas we do not fully understand, causing undesired results or fallout. We eat foods that God did not declare to be food. We live in ways He explicitly told us are not healthy. There are frequently negative consequences from doing these things.
Like Job, we can question God, but also like Job, God may very well put us in our place and show us how ignorant we were in doing so. He may even show you how you (or we) were to blame, and we falsely accused God.
For me, I’ll have faith that no matter the source of this current trial, or future ones, that God can make good result from it, and I’ll look for how I can play a part in the good that is occurring.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.