It has grieved me how little theology has been done in the past months regarding the pandemic given the popular name, “Covid-19.” A sudden and rather cataclysmic shift in our daily lives came upon us by March 2020. It continued with much political and scientific wrangling. In the United States, the virus exacerbated already existing divisions. Trust was greatly hindered.
In our fallen world of sin, afflictions are many and diverse. The natural man is quick to complain about a new and dominant source of life disruption. The Bible teaches us that all things are from God (Rom 11:36). It also teaches us that we should give thanks in all things (1 Thess 5:18).
Our refusal to acknowledge God as the originator of this world-wide event is a matter of unbelief that must be remedied. In the act of acknowledgement, we must go further and give thanks to God for Covid-19. This may be offensive to my readers who lost a loved one, but I can assure you that I am doing theology with you as one whose mother died as a result of the Covid-19 virus. I have also bid good-bye to a number of other acquaintances who were escorted from this world by this virus. There will likely be more.
Why would I propose to give thanks to God when such casualties are so near to me? It is important to view our exercise here as a theological exercise. God is good all the time. He does not change, and He is causing all things to work together for good for those who love Him, and who are called according to His purposes. So first, we are giving thanks to God for who He is and for what He does for us.
Our greater challenge is to give thanks to God for our afflictions. It is easy to thank our Lord for health and prosperity, but when we are bereft of such niceties, our hearts are revealed. Faith is a matter of both mind and heart, for we know whom we have believed, but our heart response to adversity is the test for seeing the current state of faith. This includes emotions and words.
We should marvel at Job and learn from him. Submission to Him who disciplines is vital in times of oppression. On one’s back in the hospital bed, the view is up to heaven. Under the whip of the taskmaster, the view is down with a bowed head, the same posture as prayer. God directed Israel into Egypt by circumstance. Ripe with sufferings, He delivered His people at the perfect time and in the perfect way to maximize His glory.
Trouble is the great purge of pride. We are driven to call upon the Lord to help in our time of need. We are relieved when we are released. Deliverance is the time for songs of praise and adoration to Him, who is able and who was clearly willing. The point is that God is worthy of praise because He knows the current situation and unfolding scenario. In fact, in His government and concurrence, He is moving events forward in time.
Knowing the end from the beginning, God is working His will. Nothing can thwart His will. God’s intentions are always good toward His beloved ones. The opposite is true, too. It is a perennial frown upon those who are hating God and who are at enmity with Him.
The ironic twist in God’s story is His giving more of the world to His opponents who do not give Him thanks. He lavishes prosperity on the wicked, who end up miserable in their newfound enslavement to managing money and possessions (Ps 73). He gives them good things and refuses to let them enjoy those good things. This is vanity and utter futility for the unbeliever who is then constrained to curse God.
The angrier a sinner becomes in his or her bondage to this world’s things — money, health, possessions, sexual immorality — and the more he or she fails to cope with their miserable state with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, hoarding, etc., the more sin comes into their lives. The offspring of sin is a multiplication of sins. The heart is hardened even more toward God.
My dear reader, have you been humbled by the chaos and confusion of the past months of political hypocrisy, scientific flip-flopping, death of a loved one, or maybe sickness from the virus from China itself? Have you forsaken faith in the One from whom all viruses have come to humanity through providence?
My conclusion is for you to give thanks to God for Covid-19 and all that has been revealed by it. Foremost is that we cannot trust in man, nor in this world system that operates to hinder our faith in the one true God, who sits in the heavens as Lord of the virus.
May God cause us to repent of our fear, by His grace, and may He grant us faith to live before Him all of our days in humble gratitude for that which makes us humble and grateful.
Spokane Valley, Washington
August 6, 2021