The Role Of God In Global Pandemics Like COVID-19

Whenever a global threat emerges, it is anticipated that people will wonder whether God is involved or concerned about the suffering of people. Critics will say that these days of suffering, fear, and death, are examples that prove God does not exist, or if He does, He doesn’t care about us.

During the reign of ten Roman Emperors that proceeded after the death and resurrection of Jesus, over 5 million Christians were put to death, simply because they refused to deny Christ.[1] Paul often wrote to Christians alive during the time that he penned many of his letters early in the first century, that those who love Jesus could expect suffering and death.[2] Jesus said that after He was crucified and rose from the dead, the world would hate those who follow Jesus, as much as they hated Him.[3]

If God truly loves people, why does He allow them to suffer? If God is really omnipotent and limitless in His power, why doesn’t He stop human suffering and death? These are vital and relevant questions and thankfully, they have answers.

Jesus said that “in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The presence of suffering in this present world will be a part of human life until Jesus comes again to reign as a righteous King.

The arrival of Jesus on earth as God in the body of a man, answers all of the questions that concern sin, sickness, suffering and death. The entire purpose of Jesus in coming to earth was to end these terrible parts of human life and make it possible for any person to live in a perfect world that is free of all suffering and death.

We see that every person who came to Jesus or was brought to Him with a sickness or disease, He healed them all.[4] There was no human suffering that Jesus was not able to heal. When Lazarus died, even though he was in the tomb for four days and his body had already begun to decompose, Jesus simply spoke and Lazarus came back from the dead, whole and restored.[5]

The question that could be asked at this point is why Jesus has not stopped sickness, suffering and death now on earth—if He has the power to do so?

It is Important to understand the present world in contrast to the coming world that Jesus has planned for those who love Him. When Adam disobeyed God and sinned, he began a plague of sin and suffering that has overtaken the entire earth and has lasted from that time, to the present day. The only way to stop this plague was for God to act on our behalf and make a provision to pay the debt each of us owe for our sins. When Jesus died He paid the debt we owed and every person who believes in Jesus for their salvation, God forgives these persons and gives them eternal life.

Most of the people in the world have either ignored or rejected Jesus’ offer to forgive all sins. For this reason, the world remains under sin and death. Those who do believe, when they get sick and die, they go immediately to heaven where they are healed and never suffer or die again.

For the rest of the world, God has given them time to change their minds. Every person has the duration of one life to decide for Jesus or against Him. This decision must be made while alive. At death, the decision or lack thereof, is confirmed and cannot be changed.[6]

The world remains under suffering and death because the world has continued to reject the love of God and be saved. In spite of this, God loves every person and He wants us all to be saved. Although most of the world has rejected Christ’s love and sacrifice, He continues to provide all of the resources and blessings of life, even for people who hate and despise Him. He does these things because He is good and cares, even for people who hate Him.

Until Jesus comes again to take His rightful place as the King over earth, the planet will remain as it is: a place of suffering where people can learn about Jesus and make a decision to be saved or lost. We are not here to build riches and experience endless pleasure. Our purpose if to obtain salvation, so that we can all be a part of the perfect world that is coming. People who look at this present life as the only life, are foolish. If this world were all there is, then they would be right. The facts are that God has told us that this world is lost in sin and it will not be right until sin is eradicated from the planet.

We are here to get saved and help others to be saved, and not to live for this world that is passing away.

What Is God Doing?

Concerning God’s role in human suffering, particularly in the present moment of the global Coronavirus Pandemic, He is actively involved in every way. His purpose is to use this trial to change the hearts of people and move them closer to Him.

In times of difficulty, fear, and suffering, people who can be moved—are moved. Persons who have hardened their hearts towards God—trials and suffering only serve to further harden their hearts, and move them further from God.

We see an example of this in Pharaoh of Egypt. This ruler was hardened in his heart against the God of the Hebrews before Moses came to him and asked that God’s people be released from their slavery. This meeting with Moses hardened Pharaoh’s heart even more. As each progressive plague came upon Egypt, Pharaoh hardened his heart even more. When his son died, this process was complete and he would never find it possible to surrender to God.[7]

Many people on earth right now have hearts that are still open to God. They have been preoccupied by the things of the world, and have not had time for God. This present trial will cause these persons to reevaluate their lives and realize that life is short and the issue of eternity has become more important.

Other people who have not seriously considered God, now find that they have some interest, and they can also be saved. In all of these difficult days that we are experiencing, it is the love of God in permitting trials that are intended to turn us to Him and cause us to seek Him with our whole heart.

There will be millions who are saved eternally because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Sadly, there will also be hundreds of thousands who will not turn to God and be saved. The unsaved will die and be lost forever. Trials of this nature have a way of separating those who can be saved from those who never will.

Jesus said that indecision about Him, is the same as being against Him. “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me” (Matthew 12:30). Jesus requires either an upvote or downvote. There is no middle ground, neutrality, or grey area. If we are not with Jesus, we are against Him. We must make a decision and this decision will determine our eternity.

This present trial concerning COVID-19, will cause people to move from undecided to a decision for Jesus or against Him. The determining factor is the heart of each person. Jesus described the four types of human heart in His Parable of the Four Soils ( Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:13–20; Luke 8:11–15)

  • The first type of person hears the message about Jesus and receives it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation
  • The second type hears about Jesus, they are excited and receive Him immediately. These people hear the message about Jesus, but the truth of Jesus is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
  • The third type of person, hears the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life
  • The fourth type represent honest people who have hearts open to God. They hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

It is the heart of each person that determines their ability to hear about Jesus and be saved. For this reason, each of us are responsible for our own heart. How we maintain our heart—what we choose to listen to, look at, and how we cultivate our heart—will determine what its condition is.

God is working in this time of global Pandemic. He is working to change hearts, heal people, save some from death, take others home to heaven, and cause final judgement for others. As with all trials on earth, the Coronavirus will dissipate and come to an end.

Advance Notice

It is certain that one of the important reasons for this global event, is to prepare people for the return of Jesus. Often in Bible Prophecy, there is an earlier fulfillment and a later fulfillment of the same prophecy. Jesus told us that in the last days that the condition of the world would be similar to the days of Noah when people were not thinking about God. The flood came suddenly after many warnings by Noah, and everyone but Noah and his family were lost.

The return of Jesus for His church is the next major prophetic event on the horizon. Before the time of Tribulation described by Daniel, Jesus, and Paul, those who love Jesus will be removed from the world. This is because the time specified by scripture for the Tribulation, is specifically intended for the Jews who have yet to receive Jesus as the Messiah and the world that has rejected Christ.

The seven year Tribulation is not for the church, it is for the Jews—as God returns His attention back to them once again and completes 70th week of Daniel 9. The second purpose of the seven year Tribulation is to bring judgment for the world of people left on earth who have rejected Christ.

Jesus’ church does not need to be “purified” by trials. It was Jesus’ death that purified us from all our sins and made us fully ready for heaven. Paul said that “you are complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10).

Jesus said to the church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3: “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will keep you, (Greek: τηρέω tēreō, “cause you to escape”) from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown” (Revelation 3:10-11).

Jesus’ promise is that a time of trial, the Tribulation Period, will come upon the whole world. Jesus said that He will keep those who love Him, (cause them to escape) from this time of Tribulation, and every believer should watch daily for His return because He is coming soon. Jesus warned that we should not listen to those who say the church will go through the Tribulation and lose our hope of being taken before this judgment begins, and lose the Crown that Jesus will give to everyone who eagerly waits for His arrival at the Rapture (2 Timothy 4:8).

Paul said that when this moment arrives, Jesus will descend from heaven and arrive at the outer atmosphere of earth. Those who have already died will be raised first, then those who are alive when He comes, will also be raise alive—both groups to meet Jesus in the air.[8]

In the next chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul said that those who love Jesus are “not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation. Whether we are asleep (dead) or alive when Jesus comes, we will all meet Jesus in the air.”[9]

Every Event In These Last Days Are To Prepare The World For The Return Of Jesus

What we are witnessing right now all over the world is one of the final events that will take place before Jesus comes for His church. The wise person sees these events in light of the Lord’s return and prepares themselves for this day, and tells everyone that Jesus return is near and they should receive Him now.


NOTES:

[1] History records that early Christians were persecuted and killed by the Roman government for a period of 250 years. Beginning with Nero in 54 A.D. and ending with Diocletian  in 313 A.D. Maurice M. Hassatt, “Martyr.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, Robert Appleton Company, 1910 Mark Galli, “The Persecuting Emperors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 20.

  • Nero (54-68): Paul was beheaded; Peter was crucified upside down.
  • Domitian (95-96): John was exiled to Patmos, and wrote the Book of Revelation.
  • Trajan (104-117): Ignatius was burned at the stake.
  • Marcus Aurelius (161-180): Polycarp was martyred.
  • Septimus Severus (200-211): He executed Irenaeus.
  • Maximinus (235-237): He killed Ursula and Hippolytus.
  • Decius (249-251)
  • Valerian (257-260)
  • Aurelian (270-275)
  • Diocletian (303-313): He killed more Christians than all before him.

The most reliable source for the true facts of this persecution of Christians is from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. During this period of history, John Foxe estimated that five million Christians were killed for simply believing in Jesus as their Savior. 1.Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Publisher: ReadHowYouWant, December 19, 2011, ISBN: 1459633199, Kindle Edition 2.Chuck Smith, “The Tribulation and the Church,” The Word For Today, Publishers, August 5, 2011, Kindle Edition.

It is interesting that Jesus spoke to the church at Smyrna, in the Book of Revelation Chapter 2, and told them that they would suffer through ten days of persecution and to be faithful even in their death…

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: ‘I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’” Revelation 2:8-10

These “ten days” appear to be a prophetic prediction by Jesus of the ten Roman Emperors who killed such a great number of Christians.

All ten of these Roman Emperors recorded their view of Christianity in the records of the Roman Senate Archives. Under Emperor Decius, Christians arrested could purchase a libelous that proved they had converted from Christianity without actually denying Jesus and worshipping a Roman god. This was accomplished by paying a fee to a Roman official, to obtain the certificate. 1.The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero by Cornelius Tacitus and J. C. Yardley ISBN 0-19-282421-X Oxford pages 2-27. 2.”Tacitus and the Writing of History,” by Ronald H. Martin 1981 ISBN 0-520-04427-4, pages 104–105.

[2] 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NKJV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

Philippians 1:27-30 (NKJV) 27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

1 Peter 2:20-24 (NKJV) 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

[3] John 16:1-4 (NLT) 1 “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. 2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. 3 This is because they have never known the Father or me. 4 Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.

[4] Matthew 12:15 (NKJV) 15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.

Luke 4:40 (NKJV) 40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.

Luke 6:17-19 (NKJV) 17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

[5] John 11:38-44 (NKJV) 38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

[6] Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV) 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

[7] Exodus chapters 5-14.

[8] 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NLT) 13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

[9] 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 (NKJV) 1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.



Categories: Children who die, Covid-19, Encouragement For The Day, Forgiveness of Sin, God is perfect, Hated by the world, Hearing Jesus' Voice, Jesus the Shepherd, Natural Disasters and God, Overcoming trials, Prayer For America, Reasons For Unbelief, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation through Jesus, Sickness and Suffering, Understanding Suffering

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