By Sheryl Haw
Our anchor, strength and hope is in the wonderful truth revealed throughout Scripture and through the life of Christ; that affirms what we believe: we believe that there is one living God, who is the creator, owner and maintainer of the whole universe. Our God is accessible and personal; He is trustworthy and good (in him there is no darkness at all); He is loving and compassionate, merciful and just (not wanting one life to be lost – 2 Peter 3:9); He is all powerful and is sovereign over all the earth.
The question that will arise in many people’s hearts and minds is if that is true why has God allowed this virus outbreak? If he is all loving, all powerful, is against all evil and suffering, and can thus act to stop this crisis, why are we where we are at now?
The first thing we learn from Biblical examples of facing such suffering is that the question, the lament, the protest before God, is first and foremost not to ask why but to ask how long?, and to pursue God persistently for his intervention.
Chris Wright in his book, The God I don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith, has some helpful thoughts on this and we highly recommend this book.
The why question is a tough one. We are always looking for a cause and effect rationale.
I remember the dilemma I experienced when working in South Sudan some years ago. A young teenage boy presented at the clinic with classic signs of Type 1 diabetes. We had the knowledge to treat him, but we had no access to an ongoing supply of insulin. He lived in a war zone, in poverty and oppression. I had a list of why questions. Why would the warring factions persist in their fighting? Why could we in other countries have access to great medical care and this young boy could not? Why could some people buy multiple houses and cars and this boy be destitute? It is not that people were not aware of poverty, war and oppression – information was constantly available. So why didn’t the world act? Who was to blame? Was it inequality and the selfishness of humanity? Was it the unjust colonial powers? Was it the rebel fighters? If someone said to me it was the boy who sinned – I would’ve been so angry as he was the one person in the setting that was not to blame for his poverty and illness! Of course, we could blame God. Why didn’t He save the boy? And then I reflected on in what way should He have saved the boy? Should He have reconciled the warring factions as a peace maker? Should He have pressured the rich to share their wealth and enable the country to flourish? Should He have sent the medical experts to have a hospital for the boy? What did we want God to do? Or had He not already done all of this?
Had Jesus not died on the cross to break the power of death? Had he not accepted to carry all our pain and sorrows? Had he not called a people out to be an example to the new humanity he has inaugurated, to be peace makers, reconcilers, to be healers and builders? Had he not sent us to this very boy to love, to serve and to care for him? Of course, the answer was, and is, yes, yes, yes.
So, though there is undeniably a mystery of evil (the death and loss this virus is bringing), exacerbated by the selfish, sinful actions and inactions amongst us all that increase the impact of such a virus (for example, the selfish hoarding and stock piling of items, the non-sensical violence and stigma against people of Chinese origin), I know with absolute certainty that God has acted, is acting and will act on our behalf to respond to this crisis and every other. And, he has called out a people, the Body of Christ, to be demonstrators of his love and care at such a time as this.
Jesus, thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do. Here we are – send us to live it out amongst every community today.
#LiveHope #Coronavirus #LoveYourNeighbour