How should Christians respond to the coronavirus? How should we think about the spread of this virus as it relates to God? Has He lost control? Does He know what He is doing? Is He being cruel to us on earth?
In answering these questions and more, I’ll spring my thoughts from just a couple of verses, Job 2:5–6: “5 ‘But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ 6 And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.’”
In these two verses, Satan slandered Job by saying that he remained faithful to God only because he still had his health. (Satan had just taken Job’s family and property.) However, God allowed Satan to take Job’s good health, and, as we know, Job still remained faithful to God. What can we learn from these verses that would apply to the coronavirus chaos today?
The coronavirus is a result of sin, but it will not last forever.
Satan sinned, Adam and Eve sinned, and we are all sinners ourselves. The creation was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin, and just as there are thorns and thistles, so also are there viruses that cause us to physically suffer. Satan may or may not be directly involved in the spread coronavirus. Either way, suffering from disease does not necessarily mean that God is directly punishing the diseased for his sin, but man’s sin in general is what brought about this groaning in God’s creation. The coronavirus should provoke us to hope and long for a time when Jesus comes again to make our suffering no more.
The coronavirus has been permitted by a God who is sovereign, good, and wise.
God permitted Satan to take the family and property of Job. Then God permitted him to take his health as well. God did not, however, permit Satan to take his life. Satan could only do what God allowed. God was sovereign in the suffering of Job.
God knew that Job would remain faithful to Him and that He would bless Job on earth yet again. He knew the beginning from the end, and He providentially allowed the actions of Satan to strengthen the faith of Job. God wisely allowed all these things to work together for Job’s good.
God was good to give family and riches to Job, give them again, and give him eternal life. Even if Job had lost the world but gained his soul, he would still be enjoying his eternal riches today. God Himself did not make Job suffer, and God did not tempt Job to sin. Rather, God permitted Satan to make Job suffer in order for Job to wrestle with how God could be good and wise in the loss of all of these things. In the end, Job showed Himself faithful to God by recognizing that his good God’s purposes, counsel, and wisdom were higher than his own (Job 42:1–6). What a good lesson to learn.
Applying God’s rule, goodness, and wisdom to our situation, God can sovereignly permit any virus for us today. If a believer dies of the coronavirus, he leaves his body to be present with the Lord. His life is for Christ, and his departure to be with Him is far better. God knows in His wisdom how He is allowing this all to play out, and He is good in it all.
If we are tempted to doubt His rule, wisdom, or goodness, we just need to remind ourselves that God in His perfect plan sent Jesus to suffer for us on the cross. If God in His sovereignty and wisdom showed His goodness by providing salvation for us in this way, meeting our greatest need, is He not still good to us, even while allowing the coronavirus to spread, a matter of less importance than our salvation? If God has eternity in His hands, is the coronavirus too much for Him to handle?
Also, in suffering for us, Jesus left an example behind. May we be like Him—patiently trusting our bodies and souls to our Creator and Judge. He is sovereign, wise, and good.
The coronavirus is a test for us as Christians to remain faithful.
As God allowed Satan to touch the bone and flesh of Job, so also God has allowed the coronavirus to touch the bone and flesh of many, even taking some lives in the process. Job passed the test and remained faithful to God. As believers, whether our suffering from this virus is physical, economical, or more, we need to be patient and trust that God is allowing this virus for a purpose. As Job was faithful in physical suffering, so also should we be faithful as Christians and churches today. May God help us towards this end.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2).
All quotes ESV.