When bad things (COVID-19) happen to good people

The following transcript was a question and answer presentation in an effort to answer the questions most would have concerning the COVID-19 issue.

Question: How do we understand the Corona Virus in light of the bible?

Response: That’s a good question and it’s much deeper than I believe many would at first understand.

What we’re really asking is why bad things are happening to good people. That is, (1) is man good or evil and (2) what is God’s role in these types of horrible things?

Question: So is man basically good or basically evil?

Response: I think the world would universally conclude that man is basically good. We hear that all the time. It’s probably even “hate speech” to say men are basically evil.

L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology) has stated that “Man is basically good, but Man can act badly.”

Question: Well that seems like a safe answer.

Response: Right, certainly a typical secular answer.

There’s also an inner good vs. evil conflict we all deal with.

Question: Can you explain that?

Response: Sure, let me relate a story.

An old Cherokee Grandfather was teaching life principles to his grandson.

He states “a fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight between two wolves.

One wolf is evil – he is anger, evil, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandfather states “this same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.

The grandson, thinks about this for a minute and then asks “which wolf wins?”

To which the old chief replies “the one you feed.”

QUESTION: SO IS THIS BIBLICAL?

That’s what’s interesting. One is and one isn’t.

Is a man basically good?

The bible doesn’t teach that. In the Old Testament it says:

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

In the New Testament it states in:

Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

In other words, our heart is basically evil.

Question: So what about this inner fight between good and evil?

Response: ALL MAN HAVE THIS BATTLE. FOR A NON BELIEVER THIS BATTLE PRODUCES A HARDENED HEART AND FOR A BELIEVER, THEIR BATTLE PRODUCES A SOFTENED HEART.

Let’s look at Paul. Most would conclude that Paul is a good man. Yet Paul was a murderer. He was complicit in Stephen’s murder and he slaughtered and persecuted many believers. He split up families. He orphaned children and widowed wives. He did some terrible things.

Remember 1 Cor 6:11 states and “such as these were you.” So we’ve all sinned.

Even after Paul was saved, however, he discusses this inner battle of good and evil: Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate – I do.  

Of course, Paul’s battle was between the flesh and salvation. The Cherokee Chief may not have understood the totality of this battle but he did understand the spiritual conflict.

So the world is wrong – man is basically evil but the chief was correct, in that even saved individuals still struggle with an inner battle of good and evil.

Question: So how does God fit into this question of bad things happening to good people?

Response: In 1981 Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a best selling book entitled “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” Kushner, who had just lost a 14-year-old son was trying to come to grips with evil and God. He concluded that God was powerless to do anything but at least was there to comfort us.

The true answer to Rabbi Kushner’s book of why bad things happen to good people is that “there are no good people…”

I know that sounds harsh but the bible teaches in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short…

Furthermore, Roman 6:23 states that “the wages of sin is death…”

So, we are basically sinners and the judgment for sin is death.

Should we be shocked then when bad things happen to us? We’re sinners. Don’t we all die? And, isn’t death the punishment for sin?

Question: But the deeper question is how does God play into this?

Response: That truly is the deeper question. Rabbi Kushner concluded that God was not powerful enough to stop bad things but at least was there to comfort you.

Question: So God is not all-powerful or omnipotent, He is impotent?

Response: Correct, at least according to Rabbi Kushner and he was asking this question because of his own personal grief. He concludes that God does his best and is with people in their suffering, but is not fully able to prevent it.

So there are only three possibilities. Either God is powerless, or He just allows bad things to happen but could intervene, or is He SOVEREIGN over all things?

POWERLESS / PASSIVE / SOVEREIGN

What we’re really trying to analyze is how is God involved in worldly events – without power, with power but passive, or with power and actively involved.

Question: How do most people solve this problem?

Response: Most non-believers would think that God, if he even exists, is basically good, and either is lacking in power or simply allows Satan to do evil things.

Many believers would quickly come to God’s defense and believe that God just allows evil to happen. They would add that God is powerful enough to work all things out for good for those that believe. Kind of an after the fact puzzle solver.

Certainly, He can do no evil and He is not the author of evil.

In fact, Romans 8:28 even states that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love him…”

We need to start with Genesis 1:31 – he saw all he made and it was good. He made a perfect world BUT

Let’s look at Genesis 3: 14 “Because you have done this, CURSED… So no sin has entered the world.

Question: So how does the bible clarify this?

Response: Well the bible definitely states that there will be trouble. Isaiah 8:22 says “Look to the earth, and behold distress and darkness, and the gloom of anguish.”

Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world, you will have tribulation, you’ll have trouble.” and Job 5:7 YET MAN IS BORN TO TROUBLE, AS SURELY AS SPARKS FLY UPWARD.

So we know there will be bad things happening. That’s part of life.

But listen to Isaiah 14:24, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.” Again Isaiah says in chapter 46, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.”

Question: So God is accomplishing His plans?

Response: Exactly. God is a God of Planning. HE IS SOVEREIGN OVERALL. HE CAUSES RULER TO RISE AND FALL – LOOK AT ROM 13:1 THERE IS NO AUTHORITY EXCEPT WHICH GOD HAS ESTABLISHED.

There’s a word we seldom see anymore that was common during the time of the American Revolution and even the Civil War. That word was “providence.”

Providence IS actually the planning and fulfillment of GOD’S will.

In a letter to the Hebrew congregation of Savannah, Georgia, George Washington wrote

“May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivering the Hebrews from their Egyptian Oppressors planted them in the promised land—whose Providential Agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent Nation—still continue to water them with the dews of Heaven and to make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah.”

What we seem to have forgotten, and what Washington and others of that time knew and acknowledged, was that God was the author of all things – good and evil. He wasn’t just an observer or impotent.

Question: Wow, that doesn’t sound like God is just allowing things, it sounds like He‘s IN CHARGE OVER ALL. But, how could that be true? God, can’t do evil.

Response: Very true. THE BEST WAY TO SAY IT IS GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER EVERYTHING. HE IS NOT THE AUTHOR OVER EVIL BUT HE IS SOVEREIGN OVER EVERYTHING.

LET’S LOOK AT JAMES 1:13 WHEN TEMPTED, NO ONE SHOULD SAY GOD IS TEMPTING ME. FOR GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED BY EVIL NOR DOES HE TEMP ANYONE. 14 BUT EACH PERSON IS TEMPTED WHEN THEY ARE DRAGGED AWAY BY THEIR OWN DESIRE…AFTER DESIRE HAS CONCEIVED, IT GIVES BIRTH TO SIN, AND SIN … GIVES BIRTH TO DEATH.

Let me give you some examples.

GOD IS THE RULER OF THE UNIVERSE – HE CONTROLS ALL OF NATURE.

If you all of a sudden lived in a time when all the water supplies turned to blood, when frogs were all over the place, when lice attacked men and animals, when a plague attacks all the livestock, and boils were on all people, darkness prevailed for three days straight and all the firstborn boys die – would you consider that evil?

The fact is God did not just witness this without power, He did not just allow it, He caused it to happen. Why? He had a purpose which we might not fully understand but we do know it freed his people.

Now, if you’re a reporter with the Egyptian Times and you’re now writing an article on the fact that a large part of your army just drowned trying to cross the Red Sea in pursuit of some runaway Jews. Would you not say how terrible and evil this is?

Yet God was the cause of this also.

One of the questions you need to ask is “What is evil?” Was all this evil? or was it justice? Remember, all have sinned and the wages of sin is death.

Now, would you acknowledge that crucifying Jesus Christ was an evil act?

DID GOD CAUSE THE JEWS AND THE ROMANS TO SIN BY KILLING JESUS – NO – BUT IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH TO SEE THAT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WHEN CHRIST CAME TO THIS WORLD.

Yet in Matthew 26:42 Jesus Christ Himself, who was fully God and fully man prayed “…Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” What we see as evil, God authored and worked out for the salvation of His Children. He didn’t just observe it, He authored it.

Like Christ in His humanity, we need to understand that what is happening is the fulfillment of God’s will. We need to acknowledge and accept that.

Here’s another biblical truth. Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts…my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So, we don’t understand God’s way and as God stated to Job in 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” In other words, it’s not our place to even question God.

Question: So how do we as believers come to grips with a situation such as COVID-19?

Response: I believe the bible gives us a number of ways to deal with this.

First of all, God will take care of His children. In Matthew 6:26 He says “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

In other words, if God is concerned with a simple sparrow and makes sure they are fed, is He not more concerned with His own Children – you?

I think also we need to know how to pray. Prayer really reveals our understanding of what is happening in the world.

Question: How would you pray about the Corona Virus?

Response: Well certainly we need to understand that God can call His children home if He wants – He doesn’t just witness that – He is not impotent. So, we need to acknowledge that if God wants us to come to Him, that’s what we’ll do.

Second, we can certainly pray that He spare our family and loved ones. That is only natural. We don’t want to see our spouses, children and loved ones die. So we can certainly pray for them. Even here though, we need to pray for salvation. It’s like Matthew 16:26 states “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” So if we pray for physical healing yet they are not saved wouldn’t it be a far better outcome to be spiritually saved and yet not physically healed?

But I think the big issue is that we acknowledge that God is totally in charge and is sovereign over this situation and that we pray for His purposes to be accomplished.

This is the perspective we need to have. God is in charge, and He is accomplishing His purposes with the Corona Virus. We don’t know exactly what God is doing but we can assume that it has something to do with salvation to the lost and building up the believers. Remember, we are refined through fire.

It’s also important to understand that this earth is temporary. We often place far too much concern over the continuation of this world. 2 Peter 3:13 says “…we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth…” and vs. 15 states “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…” God is literally waiting for more souls to be saved. Even some of the last words in the bible state “come quickly Lord Jesus.” This world is temporary.

Which leads me to my final point, I believe we need to recognize that the entire non-believing world is now without certainty. They had some certainty in their bank accounts, jobs, and health, but after the virus that’s may well disappear.

Believers, on the other hand, always have certainty. We know what our eternal future is and we know who is in charge of everything – now and in the future.

We should take comfort and be thankful for that, but we also need to recognize the great opportunity for witnessing the truth of salvation to a lost world.

One of the greatest revivals in the history of mankind will occur during the seven-year tribulation period. The COVID-19 situation we are in currently would seem to be a prelude to that tribulation. Instead of 144,000 Jewish evangelists, two witnesses and heavenly revolving angels, God has left the church to witness.

We need to do all we can to take advantage of that opportunity, for the Glory of God.