Don't Blame God for COVID-19 (Romans 5:3-4)
Even the most consistent believers find it difficult to accept the message in Romans 5:3-4. This verse reads: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” When we are suffering, it isn’t character building we want; it’s relief, and right now we are all suffering. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down.
Some of you have may have lost loved ones, friends, or co-workers to COVID-19. Others of you may have suffered through the disease yourself. Yet others may be experiencing depression because of the isolation brought on by the pandemic. For many people, just buying groceries or filling up the car with gasoline is a fearful experience. You just don’t know how or when you might be exposed. No person on earth could have imagined life being changed so drastically in so short a period of time. One thing is certain; we are all suffering because of this silent, invisible killer.
When bad things turn your life upside down, it is only natural to wonder, “Why did God let this happen?” Because of COVID-19, you may be asking yourself this question right now. As Christians, we worship a God who is loving, kind, and compassionate. Consequently, even the most committed believers can be forgiven for wondering, “If God really loves me why did He let this happen?” When you are suffering through hard times, it is easy to feel abandoned by God. Even Christ had that fleeting moment on the cross when He wondered if God had forsaken Him (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
As a Christian counselor, it is not uncommon for me to be asked, “Why did God let this happen?” I have seen fellow believers let sorrow, despair, and discouragement rob them of their faith and push them away from God. I have also seen Christians use these things to draw them closer to God and to grow in faith. Hard times and tragic events present us with a choice: we can either run from God or run to Him. The latter choice leads to hope, healing, and restoration. The former leads to anger, bitterness, and resentment. I recommend the latter. When life hurts, don’t blame God for your suffering; let Him walk you through it.
REFUSE TO BLAME GOD FOR YOUR SUFFERING
When you are suffering it is tempting to blame God. When life hurts, it is only natural to think, “If God really loved me, he wouldn’t let this happen to me.” The problem with this kind of thinking is that when you blame God for your troubles you lose your best source of help for overcoming the troubles. You lose the only source of help who can truly comfort, heal, and restore you. Instead of blaming God, it is better to accept the reality that because of what happened in the Garden of Eden we live in a fallen world. Because of this, bad things happen to good people; things like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your Christian faith is no guarantee against suffering. Christians suffer just as much as unbelievers. But your faith is a guarantee that when life hurts you have a sanctuary available where hope, peace, and healing can be found. That sanctuary is the loving arms of Jesus Christ. He is always there waiting to help. This won’t happen, though, as long as there is anger in your heart toward God.
The guarantee of a sanctuary just mentioned is found in Romans 8:28. This verse assures us that “ …for those who love God all things work together for Good…” This does not mean COVID-19 is a good thing. It isn’t. God gave us the assurance in this verse because He knew His children would suffer grief, discouragement, and disappointment. He knew that in a fallen world, bad things were going to happen to His children. Of course, this explanation of why life sometimes hurts can be difficult to accept when you are suffering and your faith is faltering. It may not provide the relief, comfort, or peace you seek, at least not at first.
Christians who are suffering sometimes feel bewildered and angry. They wonder what good could possibly come from what they are going through. “Maybe he didn’t cause this to happen, but he could have prevented it. If he let it happen when he could have prevented it, I’ve been a fool for believing in him.” I have heard versions of these statements many times from believers who are suffering.
This kind of reaction from even the most consistent Christians is not uncommon when they are hurting. It’s even understandable. You may have felt this way yourself at some point. You may feel this way right now. Even believers who understand that faith in God is no guarantee against life’s hardships can feel their faith slipping when life hurts. It is one thing to understand that life is unfair intellectually but quite another to accept it emotionally. Your mind may say “yes” while your heart says “no.” For Christians whose pain is still an open wound, there can be a lot emotional trauma to work through before Romans 8:28 will bring comfort, peace, and hope.
There is eternal life in the hereafter for those who love God, but in the here and now there will be trials and tribulation. God promises to work all things to the good for those who love Him, but he doesn’t promise us a life free of suffering. Christians are going to face adversity. It is almost guaranteed that at some point in your life, bad things are going to happen. The fact you are reading this article suggests you may be struggling with grief, disappointment, or discouragement because of COVID-19. If this is the case, hope begins when you stop blaming God for your suffering.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Veteran’s Lament: Is This the America We Fought For? and Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press.