JerryGirleyBy Pastor Jerry Girley
Perhaps the most pressing question on the minds of many Christians is whether the Coronavirus is a plague sent by God? Well known Christian leaders are coming down on both sides of this question. Some say there is no way that such a horrible thing could come from a loving God, therefore, it must be the work of the devil. Others such as Franklin Graham, insist that the Coronavirus is God's judgment upon the world for turning our backs on Him and embracing every evil under the sun. So what is the truth?

I would say that, unless God himself has expressly spoken to us and given us his definitive word on the subject, we should not be so quick to conclusively say that it is or it is not a judgment or a plague from God. Instead, what we should do is try to understand what is happening through a biblical lens.

A quick survey of biblical history informs us that humanity's past defiance, disobedience and disrespect of God's laws has caused Him to impose divine judgment. As we contemplate the origins of the Coronavirus we should ask ourselves whether there is anything, individually or collectively we have done, or may be doing that could potentially bring God's judgment upon us? If there is the slightest possibility that the answer is yes, we should renounce that behavior, humble ourselves and pray. If, however, our answer to this first question is no, and we are insistent that the Coronavirus is an attack from the devil, then I would pose a more nuanced question. Is it possible for God to be at work at the same time and through the same actions that we attribute to the devil? I will hazard an answer to this question. The answer is yes. By virtue of what God's sovereignty entails there is nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future without his involvement and his approval. We struggle with this concept because in Western Civilization we regard everything that causes us the slightest discomfort as evil. But there are many things that occur which we may not fully understand, but they serve a divine purpose never-the-less.

The most clear biblical illustration of this point is the arrest, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ our Lord. From an earthly perspective his arrestthePlague was a manifest injustice. He was framed and denied due process of law. Then he was sentenced to the ultimate punishment, death on the cross. Yet, it was all a part of God's plan. Every earthly, and non-earthly actor were mere instruments in God's sovereign hand. The scriptures tell us that he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities and the chastisement of our peace was upon him. All things, not just the pleasant things or the things that we are able to figure out in our finite human minds, work together for the good for those that love the Lord and are the called according to his purpose.

Let us assume for a moment that we are experiencing divine judgment, there is another question we have to consider. Are we in a safe place? What I mean by this is that it is quite possible for God to execute judgment upon a community, a nation or an entire world while He protects, preserves and even prospers his people, provided that we are in a safe place. During the Great Flood God punished the entire world for its wickedness, but He preserved Noah and his family because they were in the Ark. The Ark was a type of architype for Christ. It foreshadowed the protection available to those who put their trust in God and who walked according to His ways.

Similarly, in the Exodus account, we saw how God visited devastating plagues upon Egypt while He protected His people who were located in Goshen. The ultimate plague visited upon Egypt was the death of their first born. The Hebrews were saved because they were in Goshen and because they were inside a home where the door post had been struck with the blood of a lamb. When the Death Angel saw the blood he passed over the occupants of that home. Additionally, the book of Revelation informs us that in the last days God will cause many plagues to occur in the world, but He will not do this before he seals His chosen people first. Hence I raise the question, are we in a safe place?

My last thoughts, regarding the Coronavirus pandemic, are along the lines of Daniel's prayer found in the ninth chapter of his prophetic book. In that prayer Daniel prayed for himself and he prayed for his people who were in captivity in Babylon. They were enslaved in Babylon because of their repeated disobedience to and disrespect for God's laws. By all accounts Daniel was a righteous man. But in the time of a national crisis he did not try to absolve himself personally from the collective national guilt. Rather, he prayed in a plural and inclusive voice. The crux of what he prayed is, collectively, they deserved to be punished. However, he also intreated God for mercy and compassion. Daniel's prayer is a model for all who trust in God today. We can never go wrong by humbling ourselves and praying for God's mercy, his compassion and his grace. In these most unsettling times let us humble ourselves and pray for our family members, our fellow countrymen and for all the people of the world. If prayer becomes our focus, the question of whether the Coronavirus is a plague sent by God will be rendered essentially moot. Whether it is or is not a plague, the prescribed response is still the same. We need to humble ourselves and pray.