Podcast Episode 1: Covid-19 doesn’t mean God isn’t Good
Welcome to Season One Episode One of the Critiques and Caffeine Podcast! I’m Zach Haas and I run the same blog over at www.zachhaas.com. In this first season, we are going to be looking at some of the pet peeves I have discovered with Christianity. Thank you for joining me today as we look at how God is still good, despite the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Click below to listen along.
If you are listening to this Podcast. You have been affected by Covid-19. Not necessarily infected, just affected. Maybe not dramatically, but this has affected just about every person in the world. While it seems that things aren’t quite as fearful where I am at and the light at the end of the tunnel is a little brighter, we are still not in the clear yet. This earth will likely never be the same. People’s lives will never be the same.
In the midst of all this, some people have turned to God. But not all in good ways. Sure, some churches are doing things they probably never thought they would. Things like live streams and not going to a physical church on Easter. Some people are seeking God for answers. After all, online views are better than expected for most churches as it seems messages travel faster online.
However, there are two other kinds of people I’d like to look at. The first kind of person is looking to blame God for Covid-19. Perhaps by doing so, they can justify something so dramatic as a global pandemic that is claiming thousands of lives and infecting tens of thousands of others. I’ve seen people claim God is directly responsible for the virus. Going even further, they say that the virus is God’s punishment to people on the planet.
In some cases, the focus is that God is punishing the LGBTQ community for their actions. Really? C’mon Christians we are better than that. It’s possible that some Old Testament thinking might rationalize this kind of statement. Maybe, in the Old Covenant God would have used plagues and things to punish people for going against his will. God might still punish people for their evil but not like this. There are consequences for our actions, but those consequences do not affect the entire globe.
I find this thinking to be in error for a few reasons. First, all people are affected by Covid-19. From the poor to the rich. From the popular (shout out to Tom Hanks) to the regular person. There is no pattern to this. Strong followers of God and atheists are affected to the same degree. How can we call this punishment for sins? Some might say that we as a nation have allowed “such evil to exist.” If that’s the case, why is every single country dealing with outbreaks? There are countries that are vehemently opposed to such lifestyles who are still dealing with the crisis.
Second, this does not seem to align with the New Testament and the New Covenant that Christ brought for us. God has torn the veil. His forgiveness is for everyone. This includes people of all nations, races, and includes people of all sins. God doesn’t just eradicate sinful people. He wants them to come around to him. God may allow some people to fall victim to their sins. But for him to use a virus as a punishment that kills randomly doesn’t seem to fit. Whenever something like this happens in the Bible it is towards a particular group of people. There’s a reason. Even when famine hit in the Old Testament God protected the people who were loyal to him. We cannot blame God for every terrible thing that happens on earth. I mean, you could, especially if you subscribe to a certain degree of Calvinism. But I just find it to be a bit unfair to blame God for the virus. Could he have stopped it? Sure. But there are plenty of things he chooses not to stop.
The second kind of person I want to look at is the one who is discrediting the existence of God by saying that a good God wouldn’t allow bad things to happen to good people. This is one of the oldest arguments in the book. Quite frankly, it’s a tired argument. It’s also a poor argument that really should expose ignorance in the person saying it.
There are so many things wrong with this kind of thinking. You could start off by arguing that there is no such thing as a “good” person. Outside of Jesus, no person is “good.” Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one is good enough for the standards of God. Sure, there may be people who we would consider to be a good person. But no one is good enough to meet God’s standards of righteousness. We all have sin. We all make mistakes. We have all received God’s eternal punishment.
Jesus has made a way for all of us to be forgiven, but this doesn’t change the fact that according to God’s standards of perfection, we have all failed and deserve punishment. We don’t have to like God’s decision or his standards. But they are what they are. Therefore, there is no such thing as God doing bad things to good people because in his eyes there are no good people. At least to some extent.
This is not to say that God is cruel. There are plenty of instances where God does in fact protect someone or a group of people from the evils of this world. God does listen to our prayers and intervenes on our behalf. However, the evils of the world I believe were set up by God after The Fall. Before Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, it was perfect. There was no pain, agony, or sickness. There weren’t thorn bushes to prick our fingers. Everything was good. There wasn’t death. Death is the ultimate punishment for sin and all people deserve it in the eyes of God. So, every day that we are not killed, is actually a day we should be thanking God.
God has allowed Covid-19
Therefore, to some extent, I do believe that God has allowed Covid-19 to happen. Just as he allows bad things to happen in general. However, this doesn’t change or take away from the character of who he is. After all, Matthew 5:45 says “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
I think the laws of nature were set up in such a way that there are plagues and diseases that exist on earth that affect people because there is sin in the world. I think God allows these things to affect us to remind us that we are not perfect. That this is not heaven, and that we still need him. If everything on earth was perfect, there would be no need for God. Ultimately, I think this is one of the reasons that God allows bad things to happen to good people. When bad things happen, we remember him and come to him in prayer. Maybe, just maybe, if we were a little more proactive in our relationship with God, he wouldn’t have to allow things to happen so that we are reactive. Just maybe.
I also think that God allows bad things to happen in order to bring people closer to him. For weeks after September 11th people were brought to church. People seek answers in times of uncertainty. People remember God and his stable, unchanging nature. Again, if nothing bad ever happened why would we need God? I think this goes back to Jesus’ words In Matthew 19:24 where he says “24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Money might not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy your way out of a lot of things. You can afford the best care, the best food, the best physical resources for yourself. You do not have a dependence on God like people do who live in third world countries. Some poor people I know seem to have the greatest faith in God. They understand his miraculous provision because they know what it is like to need him more.
God uses all things for his good.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We have been given this unique time in our lives. We have the opportunity to use the quarantines and lockdowns to glorify God. Yes, we are seeing more people watch live streams. Hopefully, the church is actually growing and more people are coming to Christ, but this can be used for a greater good. With distractions limited, we have more free time where we can focus on God. We can focus on our families. We can love our neighbors. This is the good that can come from something like this.
I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of Covid-19. Especially to those who have actually been infected or have lost loved ones. In these kinds of cases, I don’t have a good answer. Sometimes, we have to accept that we see dimly and do not understand the ways of God. God is still good all the time, we just don’t always have the same definition of good. God’s allowance of “bad” things to happen doesn’t change this.
Could God stop Covid-19? Yes, yes, he could. Should we continue to pray for God’s guidance, direction, and healing? Yes, yes, we should. Has God stopped the virus? No. Not yet. But there is seeming to be some good news. Despite what the New York State Governor thinks, God is involved and aware of what is going on with Covid-19. This outbreak is changing the world. When the world changes, God moves. As Christians, we should be looking to see how God wants us to move during this time. Even when things start to return to normal, it’s going to be a while where things are different. Some people will likely start wearing masks in public for the rest of their life. More churches will offer online services. Hopefully, Christians are spreading the love of Christ so that lives are changed forever.
Covid-19 is withing God’s control
So no, I do not think that Covid-19 is God’s new punishment. I think it is simply a result of living in a broken and fallen world. Bad things happen no because God has caused them. Bad things happen because we are no longer meant for this world. There will come a time when bad things stop. God has promised heaven for his followers. However, he did not promise that things would be all sunshine and rainbows before we get there. As a matter of fact, the Bible promises that bad things will happen. Things much worse than we are experiencing now.
God is not sending us this pandemic because he is angry at something we’ve done. We need to stop blaming God for things that are a result of The Fall, or really, a result of our own sin. Humans messed up God’s perfect creation for us by allowing evil to enter our lives. God just allowed us to live on this earth with the consequences of our actions. We might not always think this is fair, but it is just the way things are. The sun rises, and the sunsets. We may not like it, we might not think it’s fair, but it is just the way it is. We need oxygen to breathe, we need to eat and drink. It’s the way things are. It’s the way God set things into motion.
We need to take responsibility for our sins. Not get angry and blame God for allowing us to deal with the consequences of that sin. We need to use worldly adversity to point people towards God’s love and forgiveness. Not complain that God is being unfair. Our definitions of fair, and good, are not always God’s. We should pray that we align ourselves closer to his definitions.
Thanks for tuning in to the Critiques and Caffeine Podcast! I look forward to sharing more pet peeves with you next time. God bless.