At the time this article is being written (late March 2020), we are living in a world consumed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some of us are self-quarantined, working from home, and maybe even not working at all, due to so business or social gathering venues being closed. The long-term effects of the pandemic itself, along with the measures being taken by various levels of local and state governments could be devastating, both personally and economically (individual, state, & national).
Every form of media seems to be all coronavirus, all the time. There are conflicting reports from all directions. Self-proclaimed experts and armchair quarterbacks are legion. There are some whose political agendas take priority over the impact upon human beings and their families, which it frankly disgusting.
Through the years, various outbreaks of pandemic diseases, such as Ebola, SARS or the coronavirus, have prompted many to ask why God allows pandemic diseases. Some even ask if a loving God could be the cause such things. So rather than debate the issue, we ask the Bible!
A good look at both the Old Testament and the New Testament tells us that the same God seemed to deal with his children differently. In the Old Testament we see God bringing plagues and diseases on His people and on His enemies “to make you see my power” (Exodus 9:14, 16). He used plagues in Egypt to force Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, while sparing His people from being affected by them (Exodus 12:13; 15:26), demonstrating His sovereign control over diseases and other afflictions.
In the New Testament, we have the story of Christ, who came to be a healer, both physically and spiritually. In fact, Jesus healed “every disease and every sickness,” as well as plagues in some of the places He visited (Matthew 9:35; 10:1; Mark 3:10). There is however a striking similarity between the Old and New Testaments. God’s power is on display in the sending of plagues and disease, as well as in the sending of His Son, who verified that he was God’s son by performing miracles and healing sickness and disease.
The New Testament also speaks of seeing sickness, disease, and pandemics as part of the end times. Jesus spoke of plagues (Luke 21:11). The two witnesses of Revelation 11 will have power “to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:6). Seven angels will wield seven plagues in a series of final, severe judgments described in Revelation 16.
What should Christians learn from all of this?
First of all, we should realize that although sickness and disease are part of living in a fallen world, there can also be elements of God’s judgment at work. At the same time, it’s not our business to try and figure out exactly what’s what.
Second, we should be mindful that life is tenuous at best. We all die. Those who are not resting in the loving arms of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, face an eternity in hell. We believers should be energized into zealously and compassionately sharing the gospel of Christ to the lost masses among whom we live and breathe. Our business is the gospel.
Third, we should not panic, as so many have during the coronavirus outbreak, with major mass media outlets fueling that panic by turning natural apprehension into mass hysteria. We are safe in the arms of Christ.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to remember that God is complete control of all things, even the coronavirus. We take reasonable steps to avoid exposure to the disease and to protect and provide for our families, while sharing the gospel of Christ to those living in fear.
So that’s some of what the Bible tells us about sickness and pandemic diseases. We don’t need to add to it or omit the hard parts. Let others speculate. Our mission, now and until He returns, is sharing His gospel!
P.S. One last thing. This is NOT an expression of my opinion, but an attempt to just look at what the Bible actually says.