Updated: Oct 8
From our human viewpoint Crises and Disasters among other things shape human history. That however is a narrow and uniformed view. God knows and sees well in advance that when (he permits or directs) a crisis local or global visits a given community, the fundamental reality of that community, society or nation is laid bare. Who has more and who has less, where the power is centered and what people treasure most and what they fear most etc.? We should as Christian’s fear God above all else but tragically many do not. God has interacted with Israel and the rest of humanity through his creation with things like Tsunamis, earthquakes, etc. pandemics since the Fall.
It is primarily through such times that whatever is broken in society gets revealed for just how broken it is. We do not as a rule celebrate disasters but as Christian’s we have a different view, we acknowledge God’s hand in them. We like the world may ask why but as Christian’s we should know that the why is best substituted with why not? We as Christians realize as “Job” did that the complexity of God’s creation is so vast and unfathomable by mere human thought that even if we were presented with the connections, the weave of cause and effect we could not understand. Our reach always exceeds our grasp.
2 Samuel 2:25, 31 5 “For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; 31 ...This God, his way is perfect.”
Our world has been broken by sin for a long time as we have been broken by sin since birth. We are redeemed by the Blood of Christ, yet sin is still present in this almost but not yet period of earthly history. So, as we struggle as always to understand our current situation God gives us some clues. Job is always a good example. Job lost his ten children to a “natural disaster” (Job 1:19), Job said and reacted by saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Fast forward to the end the writer confirms Job’s vague understanding of what happened even if he did not know why. Job’s brothers and sisters “comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11).
The pandemic is in our secular, science-oriented worldview seen as a natural progression, a calamity brought about in part by our raping of the environment, of nature, a natural disaster. No doubt in part this is true, but this is God’s creation (Luke 8:24) and not the rambling vehicle of evolutionary extrapolation or mercenary consumerism. From God’s own Word we know that He sovereignly and meticulously maintains and controls our environment, our world, even if we as co-regents do a poor job. Factually from God’s Word creation consists of the seen and the unseen spiritual realm or realms.
Creation was subjected to futility as part of the curse of sin. Understand that just as God seeks to have us as his family prior to humanity there was and continues to be the Angelic beings who were and are also part of his creation/family (Psalm 82, Deut. 32). They helped God govern his creation and when they rebelled in a similar way as we have (Genesis 11:1-9), you have this brokenness in both realms that overlap, a pervasive brokenness.
Just as the “Accuser’ (Job1;12,2:10) which could have been Satan worked behind the scenes (in The Divine Council) with God’s permission similar things could be happening now. The Accuser could manipulate the weather among other physical aspects of our world. Does that happen now? We do not know but perhaps. The realization we must have is that of all the many disasters or calamities that happen to us and in this world, whether due to our foolish behavior or due to supernatural influence because God remains sovereign (Job 38:8). The messiness of death and destruction you and I see is seen with a vastly different perspective by our Eternal and Sovereign God. Yes, God sees all our sins comprehensively and he is engaged with us in sadness, wrath and mercy. That is why we as humans should fear the wrath of God as it is, He that will place us in Hell for all eternity. Satan is not decisive God is.
Despite peoples attempts at twisting God’s Word there is no biblical evidence that everyone will be saved regardless of their sin. This is fantasy and wishful thinking.
When we acknowledge that the Lord giveth and the lord taketh away that applies to death and all else in our lives. Death is now in the forefront of our lives even though many still deny it. Our lives are brief and disasters like the pandemic or earthquakes etc. mingle mercy with judgement. We only must look to Christ to understand this concept. The Death of Jesus was both judgment (on Jesus as He bore our sins) and mercy (on us who trust that he bore our punishment- Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:4) and be our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Let us look at the curse that lies on this fallen earth. The unsaved experience all these disasters as judgment, but believers experience it as, merciful, yet painful, a preparation for the glory to come. “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope” (Romans 8:20). This is God’s subjection and why there are pandemics etc.
“Not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). All humanity suffers in theses things. Through the mercy of Christ these afflictions are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). So, when death comes, it is a door to paradise and the New Earth/New heaven. Those who do not believe, the natural man, suffering and death are God’s judgment. “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
Look at Job again closely or even the Book of Esther. These scriptures are snapshots of the mechanics of God’s economy in the thoughts and language of accommodation God uses to communicate with us. “Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), is for all humanity. It is proper for us to weep with those who suffer. Pain is pain, no matter who causes it. Empathy does not come from the causes of our pain, but the company of pain. We are all in this together.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). That is the meaning of mercy—undeserved help which is what God shows to all of us daily.