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We live in a world which is undoubtedly a suffering world. We are plagued by health problems, broken relationships, natural disasters, and cannot know for sure if we will live to see tomorrow’s sunrise. This fact was certainly clear in the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, as thousands of families across the globe lost loved ones. When faced with suffering and death a question which surfaces in different forms—from both Christians and non-Christians—is the question: why? Ultimately, why does God allow suffering to come upon us? It is possible that you may be struggling with this question, or that you have been faced with this question. In this article, let us consider four reasons, drawn from the Bible, as to why God allows suffering to come upon us.
God allows suffering to disrupt our lives so that we may run away from material things and seek God with eagerness.
1. To Demonstrate His Sovereignty Over Human Life And Death
Our God is the creator. He alone gives us life, and He sustains all things (Ps.100: 3, Isa. 43: 7, Col. 1: 16-17, Rev. 4:11). This means that He is the only one with the rightful authority over the whole of creation. God allows suffering to come upon us to remind self-dependent people that we are not in control of our lives. Regardless of what we are led to believe by popular culture, science, modern technology and physicians do not have ultimate authority over life and death. The Bible is clear and unapologetic: “The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings it down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Sam. 2: 6, Job 1:21). And every time a pandemic or natural disaster strikes, our real condition is exposed—we are mere mortals.
And so, although suffering and the possibility of death is unsettling, we need not panic when faced with these. We can trust our Lord who has “the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18). If our Lord gives life on earth, then we live, and if he calls us home, no one can stop us. In the words of J.C. Ryle, “All the powers of the world cannot take away my life, till God permits. All the physicians of earth cannot preserve it, when God calls me away. All the physicians of the earth cannot keep it alive when God calls me.” Therefore, let us trust in the sovereign God alone, not in ourselves or any other man.
2. To Bring People Closer To Him
God allows suffering to disrupt our lives so that we may run away from material things and seek God with eagerness. God humbles us through our suffering, and the purpose of this humbling is so that we would go to Him for help. He is our helper. He is the Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. This means that instead of becoming bitter and disheartened when life gets difficult, we can go to him and know that we will find comfort from our Father in Heaven. And so, instead of turning away from God, let us draw closer to him in days of trouble.
3. To Show The Need Of The Saviour
The greatest pandemic in this fallen world is not the coronavirus, but the pandemic of sin, which causes eternal death. The coronavirus pandemic (and other forms of suffering) can destroy only our bodies, but the pandemic of sin can destroy both the human soul and body—in hell, under the holy wrath of God. But thanks be to God that he has given us a way of escape in the form of Christ Jesus our Saviour. His blood, shed on the cross to pay the price for our sins, saves us from the punishment of sin.
The greatest pandemic in this fallen world is not the coronavirus, but the pandemic of sin, which causes eternal death.
As we look at all the suffering around us we are reminded of what Paul wrote in Romans 8:22: “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” The suffering in the world shows us that we need Jesus Christ, the Saviour, who will deliver the whole of creation from slavery and destruction. When he returns, “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). Then, in the New Creation, there will be no pain, no suffering, no sorrow, no tears, no death, no more destruction and pandemics (Rev. 21:4).
4. To Set Our Minds On Heavenly Things
God allows suffering to come upon us to remind us that we live in a temporary world which is full of uncertainties. Left to ourselves, we start to seek our security in this world, and we forget that we cannot get true security without God. We are prone to get addicted to the wealth of this world, the things of the world, the facilities of the world, material power, worldly technology, etc. We start setting our minds on these things, and then start living for them. Therefore, the sovereign God allows suffering to come upon us to remind us to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” and to “Set [our] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-2).
Therefore, even when faced with suffering, whether we are suffering in pain, or facing persecution, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2-1)
This article was originally published in Hindi on Marg Satya Jeevan: https://margsatyajeevan.com/why-does-god-allow-covid-19-epidemics-to-come-upon-us/