God and the COVID-19 Pandemic

If God is good and loving, why is there a COVID-19 virus that is causing world-wide suffering and death?

By Ron Jones ©Titus Institute 2009

Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Watching the evening news can be a depressing experience at times. It seems that every day the trouble is the same, only the names and places change. Crime, drugs, abuse, war, starvation, disease and the like are all around us and they never stop. Now we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which is one of many epidemics and pandemics that have caused a huge amount of death in the world in the past. This is nothing new. Questions that always come up are "If God is good and loving, why is there suffering in the world?" and "Why doesn't God stop the virus by a divine miracle?" and "Why doesn't God simply eliminate pain and suffering?" These are legitimate questions. God himself has given answers to these questions in his revelation, the Bible.

In the beginning there was no suffering in God's kingdom on earth.

We human beings have lived with pain and suffering all of our lives and we forget there was a time on earth when pain and suffering did not exist. There was no suffering, no death, no fear, no earthquakes or natural disasters and no disease and pandemics. There was harmony, and peace, and joy and complete health. This time was at the beginning of creation as recorded in Genesis 1 when God made the world and all its living creatures. By the end of Genesis 1, creation is completed and Moses records God's view of what he had created in v.31, he says, "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good."

In Genesis 2 God gives the details of his summary statement about the creation of man in Genesis 1:26-27. God creates Adam and gives him a specific location on the earth to live which is called Eden and plants a garden there for him and his soon to be created wife, Eve. In Genesis 2:15, God tells Adam to cultivate that garden and keep or watch over it. And this was not a difficult task, but a rewarding and fulfilling one since there was no death, nor decay, only growth with the ground readily yielding its produce. Then out of his love, God created a wife for Adam, Eve (Genesis 2: 21-24).

Genesis 1:28 tells us what God wanted them to do. They were to start a family and populate this wonderful planet that God had created for them and their descendants. Genesis 3:8 tells us that God would manifest his presence with them and spend afternoons with Adam and Eve. This was the purpose for which they were created, to have a love relationship with the Triune God and with each other and live in peace and harmony. There was harmony in nature and between Adam and Eve. No pain, no death, only happiness with themselves and God. This is what God had intended man's existence to be like on this earth.

Love, joy, peace, and harmony from God's righteousness reigned in his kingdom.

God did not create man or woman to suffer, but rather to be happy with him in God's kingdom on the earth. However, love, joy, peace, and harmony only result from righteousness. Often, we think of righteousness as a set of rules that are given to keep people in line, but that is not true. Righteousness is a way of living which involves the fruit of the Spirit as the Apostle Paul shares in Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." These characteristics display God's righteousness which is his way of living. These bring blessing to all. The deeds of the flesh, on the other hand, describe unrighteousness and an unrighteous way of living. Galatians 5:19-21 says, "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these." These unrighteous deeds bring pain and suffering in the lives of people.

God is a righteous God and his kingdom must be righteous and its inhabitants must be righteous if there is to be no suffering. The psalmist declares in Psalm 119:137 and 142, "Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules...Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true." Following God's righteous ways results in people showing love to each other and bringing blessing to each other. The only way human beings can experience a world of love as we all desire is if the world is righteous and all are following God's righteousness.

God created Adam and Eve with free will so they might love him freely.

God created human beings to have a righteous love relationship with him, but God did not want to create robots who were forced to love him and follow his ways and live righteously. He wanted Adam and Eve and their descendants to freely choose to love him and follow him so that he could have a true loving relationship with them. Love must be freely given or it is not love. So, God created human beings with a free will. That means that every day Adam and Eve would have to choose to follow God's righteous ways in order to live in his kingdom. God would not force them.

In order for Adam and Eve to know how to live righteously God created in them a conscience which knows generally right from wrong (Romans 2:15) and gave them verbal laws to follow on a daily basis. As in all societies on earth throughout human history and today, God gave Adam and Eve both positive laws (commands) and negative ones so that they might live righteously in his kingdom. As in all societies on earth, laws are also given to keep harmony and peace. Within those laws, people have a lot of freedom to make choices, but if a law is broken, then there is a penalty. This is based upon how God rules and made the world. Genesis 2 does not tell us all that God told Adam at that time, but only the main moral positive and negative law (command) that would test his willingness to submit to the Lord and his righteous ways.

In Genesis 2:16-17, God gave Adam and Eve a command to eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, but not the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was a simple command to obey. When God gave the command, he warned Adam that if he disobeyed God, he would die. This was not an arbitrary penalty for sin instituted by God, but the inevitable result of disobedience. At the moment of disobedience, Adam and Eve would become unrighteous and unrighteous people cannot be united to a perfectly righteous God and inhabit his righteous kingdom. God told Adam that their disobedience would result in death because unrighteousness results in death.

Adam and Eve chose unrighteousness resulting in their spiritual & physical death.

The penalty for their sin was actually the inevitable result of their actions. God is a righteous God and his kingdom must be righteous and its inhabitants must be righteous. Adam and Eve rebelled against God's righteousness when they disobeyed God's righteous command and could no longer have a relationship with a righteous God and be part of his righteous kingdom. That is what the penalty of death was spiritually. It would also have physical consequences because their physical bodies became corrupted and would no longer be immortal. Their bodies would deteriorate and eventually die.

Adam and Eve's unrighteousness resulted in the corruption of the world.

Then God cursed the physical environment as judgment against Adam and Eve's disobedience and sin. In Genesis 3, God cursed the ground and the entire physical earth and universe he had created because it was created for humans and humans had now become corrupted. Paul talks about this in Romans 8:20, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it." God allowed the corruption of the world to take place as part of his curse. There would now be pain and suffering in the world as a result of the deterioration of the human body and the corruption of the environment. Right here, in Genesis 3, as a result of the fall of man, is where suffering entered the world of mankind. It is a result of man's sin and disobedience to God.

Suffering comes from the spiritual death of our spirits, the physical decay and death of our bodies, and the physical corruption of a cursed world. So, the fall of man brought to all mankind the capacity to suffer and the suffering of spiritual and physical decay and death. In our weak moments, we may be tempted to blame God for all that we are going through, but the reality is we cannot blame God, it is the fault of human beings.

You ask, "But why should I suffer death because of what Adam did?" Well, for one thing, had any of Adam and Eve's descendants (that's us) been there instead of Adam or Eve, we would have done the same thing. Adam and Eve were not worse human beings than us, we are all human beings who would have fallen.

When Adam sinned, human nature became corrupted and all born from Adam (all human beings) are born with a corrupted nature. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." Every human being is born with a sin nature inherited from Adam into a sinful world with other sinful human beings. When human beings hurt each other on purpose it is a result of their free choices. Many times suffering comes from the exercise of free will by human beings. Since God created human beings with a free will, human beings can choose to sin against each other. So much suffering is caused by human beings hurting each other. If we want to have free will as human beings then we have to live in a world of other human beings that also have free will.

Suffering has come into our lives as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve.

So, suffering comes into our lives as a result of the fall. When an earthquake occurs, it is a result of the corruption from the fall. When an animal attacks and kills a person, it is a result of the corruption from the fall. When someone lies about us and causes problems in our lives, it is a result of the corruption from the fall. When a human being kills another human being, it is a result of the corruption from the fall. That does not mean people are not responsible, they are. It is their choices, but we are corrupted by the fall.

How does what happened to Adam and Eve apply to the COVID-19 Virus?

So how does that apply to the COVID-19? Viruses arise from a corrupted world. They infect the corrupted bodies of animals who can infect the corrupted bodies of humans. If a human being does not use proper hygienic procedures in handling an infected animal he or she can infect himself or herself with a virus from the animal and infect others. If scientists working in labs do not use proper hygienic procedures in handling virus samples, they will infect themselves and then others. God did not create the virus. He did not infect the animal. He did not cause human beings to handle infected animals or virus samples without proper hygienic procedures. He did not cause the person to infect others. He did not cause others to travel and return home and spread the virus. God did not cause the pandemic. Human beings did. That is the first thing that needs to be understood.

God is sovereign and keeps human beings and the world from being destroyed.

The second thing is to understand that God is sovereign and controls the destiny of human beings and the world. God allows human beings to live in a corrupt world and have a certain amount of freedom to make choices that may hurt others, but God will limit the corruption and evil according to his plan and ultimately keep humans from destroying themselves before the time he has ordained for the end of the present earthly existence.

Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that he is on the throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things "according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11). In 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, David declared, "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all."

The world will not be destroyed by human sin or error, disease, war, or famine, or any natural disaster including an asteroid pummeling the earth. According to Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19 Jesus will return to a populated earth to set up his kingdom. God has the whole world on a time table in his sovereign plan until Jesus returns. Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:30-31, "Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." When this time is to come, no one knows. Jesus said in Acts 1:7 "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." So, God is holding back much evil and its consequences in the world to keep humans from destroying themselves and to work his purposes in the lives of people.

God answers the prayers of his people in a time of crisis.

The third thing that needs to be understood is that God answers the prayers of his people for protection and healing for all of the suffering human beings in the midst of this fallen world. God clearly reveals in the Scriptures that he listens to the prayers of his people. In Psalm 34:15, David declares "The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry." Then in v.17 he says, "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles." The righteous are Christians, those who have been given God's righteousness as a result of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. When Christians pray for themselves and those around them, whether it be for the benefit of Christians or non-Christians, God hears their prayers and answers them. God may choose to say "yes," "no," or "wait," but he always answers and he answers according to his will and plan (1 John 5:14-15).

When Christians pray for healing from COVID-19 and pray that God will stop the COVID-19 from spreading, God has promised that he would work on their behalf. However, of course, God has given us knowledge of preventive measures we have to take and God will work through those and even do more. We cannot see the things God is doing to prevent the spread of the virus, but you can be assured this is not going to destroy the world and the Lord is going to answer the prayers of his people concerning the virus. Christians need to raise their voices to God and pray for God's hand to stop the spread of the virus and heal those who have it.

Will there ever be a time when humans will again enjoy a world with no suffering?

So, will there ever be future time when human beings will again enjoy a world full of love, joy, peace and harmony? Yes. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned and God condemned them for it, God promised that he would send a redeemer and conqueror to bring a new kingdom of righteousness into the world (Genesis 3:15).

God's future righteous kingdom with no suffering is coming when Jesus returns.

Human beings ultimately needed God's righteousness so they could enter God's new kingdom that was forever. Therefore, God gave human beings a way to be forgiven of sin and gain God's righteousness so they could have a love relationship with him and enter his new kingdom he had prepared for them. So, in Genesis 3:15 God promised he would send a savior to the world to redeem human beings and give them an opportunity to be forgiven and enter his kingdom. So, God sent his Son in order to pay the penalty of death for sin. The Apostle Peter says about Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 2:24, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." Why did God do this? He did this because of love. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

God has prepared an eternal kingdom for his children where there is the love, joy, peace, and harmony that he originally intended for human beings to share with him. Revelation 21:1-4 says, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

God's righteous kingdom is entered by faith in Jesus Christ.

This kingdom is entered by faith in Jesus Christ. John 3:16 as we saw says "that whoever believes in him [the Son, Jesus Christ] should not perish but have eternal life." "Believe" refers to repenting from sin and turning to Christ, trusting that he is God come in the flesh and he will save you from your sin. You then commit yourself to follow Jesus Christ and his righteous ways as revealed in the Bible. When human beings do this, they become disciples of Jesus Christ and enter his spiritual kingdom and one day will enter his eternal physical kingdom that is coming when Christ returns. At the moment we accept Christ and turn to him as our Lord and Savior, we receive the righteousness of Christ in us and we come into a righteous relationship with God, the very purpose of our existence. Romans 3:21-24 says, "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

Why is this important for non-Christians to understand?

Why is this important for non-Christians to understand? God allows suffering so humans can understand the results of sin and desire to turn away from it. He allows suffering for them to yearn for a place and time of no suffering which is God's kingdom. He allows suffering for humans to realize that the corrupted world is too big for them to control or manage on their own and they need a sovereign all-powerful God in their lives to help them. He allows it for them to see that they need the forgiveness that is in Christ and a right relationship with God. He allows it for them to see that they need God who will love them and care for them in the midst of this suffering and then bring them into his future physical kingdom where there will be no suffering and only love, joy, peace and harmony forever. If you are reading this and you do not know Christ as your Savior, would you turn to him and accept him today? For a more detailed view

Invitation from Jesus

Why is this important for Christians to understand?

Why is this important for Christians to understand? When we come to Christ in salvation and become God's child, we come under God's care as our heavenly Father. 1 John 3:1 says, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." Jesus said in John 10:14-15, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." Psalm 23 speaks of Jesus as our shepherd and all that he does to watch over us on a daily basis in the midst of life in a corrupted world and its various trials and crises.

However, Christians can mistakenly believe that as a result of becoming a child of God, God promises to protect us from all the consequences of sin and thus any suffering it brings. Therefore, no suffering should happen to us as long as we are trusting the Lord. That is simply not true. God cursed human beings and the world as a judgment for sin; we are human beings; God never promises that he is going to reverse the curse regarding the physical world in our lives. God takes away the curse of the spiritual by bringing us into union with himself. But the effects of the curse of the physical remain as long as we remain physically alive.

What God does promise is that he will use the suffering that comes into our lives from the fall for our spiritual good. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Since everything is under God's control, God will only allow what he desires into our lives for his purposes. God does protect us from all that he does not want us to experience because of the fall. What is such a blessing for you and me as believers in Jesus Christ is that our loving and gracious God has promised to work through his own curse and penalty for sin in our daily lives for our spiritual good! Then Paul mentions that no matter what crises we face, the Lord is there loving us through it. Romans 8:35-39 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

How can you strengthen yourself spiritually during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Two free eBooks I have published can really encourage Christians at this time of suffering, one is "Trusting Jesus My Shepherd, Daily Readings in Psalm 23" which I wrote and "The Attributes of God" by A.W. Pink, which I adapted into Daily Readings for your encouragement.

Titus Institute Press

If you are a non-Christian, this is a time to think about your life and your need for God and his Son Jesus Christ and turn from your sin and accept Christ as Savior.For a more detailed view

Invitation from Jesus

If you are a Christian, this is a time to trust God and hold fast to Christ as your Shepherd and trust him to bring good out of all of this which he will.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."