My aim is to stir up our philosophical side by asking questions about the question, to help us to think through the issues. I also want to speak to this issue theologically, to allow the Word of God to be the authority on this issue. It may be a long article so I will do it in parts, allowing you to read a part at a time. May it strengthen our trust in God and His Word and equip us for profitable service. Please feel free to interact with me on this.
Part 1: What is behind the question?
One thing that seems to be behind a question like this, whether consciously thought or not, is the idea that if there is a God, He would allow only “good” things to happen to “all” people. This demonstrates a failure to understand 3 important things
- God only does good things.
- People deserve only good things.
- All people are the same in relation to God
God only does good things
Non churched people who are more atheist in their thinking, perceive God more as a Father Christmas figure than the God of the Bible. He has His season, when needed, and He gives good gifts. This was my thinking at 18, I wasn’t a church goer, had no Christian friends, had never dialogued with a Christian and had never read the Bible. My views on God and Christian things should have been zero, for I was totally ignorant. But when our Christian PE teacher lost a child to cot death, I went straight to the guidance counsellor and said, “Surely now he must see that there is no God.” My subconscious view of God must have been, if there is a God, He would only allow good things. Follow the equation through, God only allows good things . . . a bad thing happened . . . conclusion, there can’t be a God.
This is far from the truth and part of the reason this question arises in the first place. God is good [Ps.25:8; 100:5, Luke 18:19]. And so, He does good to all peoples [Ex.1:20, the Hebrew midwives, as well as Naaman, the captain of the army of the Arameans, 2 Kings 5:14]. But a question we need to ponder is this, how does a good, JUST God deal with people? If this God is not just, can He be good? What about a good, HOLY God? If this God does not act in accord with His holiness, is He a good God? Hopefully this helps us to realize that it is a black and white issue if God is ONLY good, but it changes significantly if God is MORE than merely good.
People deserve only good things
It is not only an incomplete understanding of God that people have but an incomplete understanding of man also. Not only does the question presuppose that God only gives good things, it presupposes that mankind ONLY deserve good things. To be accurate, most people probably do have a list of people who DON’T deserve good things, but this list is most probably very small and still demonstrates a lack of understanding about people and sin.
The problem of sin entering the world in Genesis 3 and the consequences of this play the major role in understanding suffering in this world. To see simply a world without God, brought about by other means, with no real absolute standard of right or wrong. And to see a world where just about everyone are the “innocent,” shapes a thinking that can only exalt human beings while downplaying any existence of a God. Any right thinking about suffering in our world must include an understanding about sin and its consequences on the world. Romans 8:22 tells us that the whole creation groans because of sin and suffering. The results of sin and suffering should be seen throughout all creation, and it is.
Think about the person who asks the question above, how will they process what is going on? Where will they go for hope, if not to the Lord, then who? Where? Romans 8:18 says to the follower of Christ, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
All people are the same in relation to God
Think of our equation again, if there is a God, He is a good God . . . this good God does good to people . . . bad things happen to people . . . therefore there can’t be a God. Apart from the misunderstandings we have already addressed, this thinking lumps ALL people together. But the biblical reality is that God has a special people [Ex.19:5-6, 1 Peter 2:9-10], and God deals differently with His special people than He does with others. Not in everything [Matt.5:45], but in significant ways regarding suffering. Suffering could be allowed by God on people, as a judgment upon their sin, not so for God’s special people, for Christ took their judgment on the cross. Romans 1:18-32 speaks of a present wrath upon those who do not see fit to acknowledge God any longer [v.28, Eph.5:6] and Romans 2:5 speaks of storing up a wrath that will come. Both “wraths” are not for God’s special people [1 Thess.5:9]
And so, in relation to the question, why does God allow Coronavirus, we have seen that behind this question lies 3 errors, if there is a God, He only does good things. All people deserve good things and all people are the same in relation to God. I hope part 1 has helped in our understanding of these errors and will better equip us for profitable service.
2 additional thoughts
- In using the phrase, people deserve only good things, in a negative way, in no way insinuates that I believe everyone deserves bad things. In a fallen world both the righteous and unrighteous suffer and both the righteous and unrighteous can suffer as innocent parties. The big difference lies in “hope.” The righteous have a hope the unrighteous do not.
- The question could have been written, why does YOUR God allow Coronavirus, because often these questions are from those that think they can make your God look silly and maybe convince you He doesn’t exist. Be careful of getting into an argument with a “fool.” On the other hand, you should KNOW your God and develop an answer that may not satisfy them, but you
Grace & Peace