When tragedy, sickness, hardship and death strike it becomes easy to wonder, where is God? Perhaps you have asked that question given the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be in financial strains because you lost your job, are scared because you have someone close to you that test positive, or simply might be lonely given the social distancing restrictions. It’s all an unfamiliar territory to be in. How could God let this happen to me and the world?
The question now consumes the minds of millions of believers, who quiver at steadily rising death tolls and struggle with stories of hospitals breaking down. In just the past few weeks, millions have started to fear together that the world is moving towards the end at a terrifying speed, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. The sheer horror of this fast-moving infection is coupled with the almost physical shock from its sudden onset.
The question is essentially the same that people ask when a hurricane wipes out hundreds of lives or when a single child dies from cancer. It is called the “problem of suffering” or “the mystery of evil”. It’s a question that Christians have been grappling with for millenniums. The question of natural suffering, from illnesses or natural disasters, differs from that of moral evil, which would be like Hitler’s actions. The truth is no one really knows the answer but God. People could argue that it’s to teach the world a lesson, but others could argue that means He is not all-loving.
One thing we do know for certain, though, is that God hasn’t abandoned us. The Lord promised us in the Bible, multiple times, that He will never forsake us or leave us in our time of need. He is still walking by us, and the world, helping us get through this terrible time. Where is God? God is with us. Here are the promises you need to remember.
God is in control.
God is always in control, and He loves you (John 16:27). This remains true despite what the circumstances may be. God has assured us that He will work all things to our good (Romans 8:28), and nothing can change that truth. Every opportunity, joy, and success we experience as well as painful losses and failures are a part of His plan. God’s work is in progress in our daily lives.
In Psalm 23 David praises God and His nurturing care in the midst of trials. It says “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). Even when we are in deep shadows, God is there, not as an observer, but as a protective Shepherd, close at hand. His care extends to every part of our lives at this very moment (Ephesians 1:4-6). When we cry out He knows our pain, when we sing He knows our joy and when we lean hard He is always there for us. God is your refuge and His everlasting arms are always there to support and hold you (Deuteronomy 33:27).
God understands our pain.
Hebrews 4:15-16 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Every negative feeling we have is one that God understands. God is there to listen to the hurt you feel. He understands your pain, confusion, and suffering and asks you to put it on His shoulders. God doesn’t think your feelings are irrational or over-the-top; how you respond to this crisis will be different from others and that’s OK. God isn’t judging you, He wants to be there for you.
God will walk us through it.
Proverbs 16:9 says “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” No matter how much we try to plan the next few weeks of our lives, the truth is that the world is unpredictable right now. What the newscasters say might change within 24 hours. Only God really knows the path we are on, and we have to trust in His plan for the world. We have to humble ourselves in front of Him, and understand that there will be something greater for us on the other side.
God always stand by His people.
Romans 8:38-39 declares that “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”. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, God is guiding His people. No virus will ever be able to separate us from God’s love and power. He will continue to fight for us, but we have to trust in His plan.
God is calling us to be Shepards.
In times of crisis and adversity, peace is a precious commodity, and no peace is more precious than the peace God gives us through His Son. In fact, when fear and uncertainty abound, as God’s people we ought to be a reservoir of His peace. We can become a sanctuary where our family, friends, and others may turn for prayer, assurance, and encouragement. Jesus tells us in John 16:33: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” In Ephesians 2:14, the apostle Paul takes this incredible encouragement one step further, telling us that not only does Christ bring us peace, but that “He Himself is our peace.” God is in you.
We struggle as a society to cope with natural tragedies. It can be hard to wonder where God is during this dark time. The truth is that God is still with us, walking us through the pain and suffering. He is guiding us and wrapping His protective arms around our scared hearts.