Some people believe the virus is God’s judgment on America – Currents Events Q2 2020: Is God In Control?, Part 1

This year, I started doing a “Current Events” sermon once per quarter.   It’s time for our next one! The way the current events sermons work is that I wait until the week of the sermon to decide what to preach about, because I want the current events topic to actually be current.  Last quarter I had a bunch of options, and even in the middle of the week I wasn’t sure what to talk about.  You can read the series of blog posts about that sermon starting here. This time the topic was rather apparent.  

What have you been hearing about God’s role in the coronavirus pandemic?

Have you heard that God sent the coronavirus to America because our nation needs to be pushed down to its knees?  Even if you haven’t heard that, some people have suggested it.

I find that idea troubling.  I want to respond with, “Are you telling me that God sent a virus to punish America, and in the process he was okay with the virus killing thousands of people in China, Italy, and many other places around the world?  All because he wanted to punish America?” 

“Well,” the person might say, “Maybe he is trying to get the attention of the whole world.  He started the virus, and he won’t allow it to be eradicated until the virus has accomplished his purposes for it.”

“Wait a minute,” I answer, “God would send a pandemic to kill thousands and thousands of people just to get our attention?  Does that sound like God?”

Again the person might suggest, “Well, no, that doesn’t sound like God, and yet if God is in control, isn’t that what is happening?”

Ah, there we have it.  Our topic for today: God is in control. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “God is in control” in connection to the virus.  There are many similar statements Christians say when we’re going through hard times. Have you heard any of these?

“Through this virus God is taking away our worldly idols – celebrities, sports, entertainment, our money.”

“God never takes away something in your life without replacing it with something better.”

“So thankful that, even though I don’t know why God brought this virus on us, I know I can trust him and he has good lessons for me to learn.”

Do any of these statements represent a healthy way to describe God’s interaction with the world? More importantly, what does the Bible say about God’s involvement in the world?  Does the Bible teach that God is in control?

I googled “Does the Bible say that God is in control?” and found that the internet has a lot to say about this topic!  One article from Beliefnet lists 8 Bible verses the article claims show that God is in control.  The point of the article is to give comfort to those struggling with difficult times, and I love that.  But not a single one of the 8 verses listed say that God is in control.

Here are a few the article lists:

  • Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
  • Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Check the other examples yourself: 1 John 4:18, Psalm 94:19, Luke 12:22-26, Psalm 27:1, Revelation 1:17.  Every single verse is amazing and truthful, but none of them say the words, “God is in control” or teach something like that.  Instead they all say that God is strong, and because he is strong and loving he is with us in the midst of the trouble. While that is true and wonderful, and a needed reminder during this pandemic, it is very different from the idea that God is in control.

So is there anywhere in the Bible that teaches that God is in control?  It depends who you talk to.  There are biblical scholars who say without a doubt that the Bible clearly teaches that God is in control of all things.  And there are biblical scholars who say that the Bible does not teach that God controls all things.

Check in to the next post as we’ll take a look at some of both.

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids, Tyler, Connor, Jared and Meagan. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

7 thoughts on “Some people believe the virus is God’s judgment on America – Currents Events Q2 2020: Is God In Control?, Part 1

  1. Well, I have to disagree with you! Actually, there are a LOT of passages in the bible that God said that He was sending judgement over His people for disobedience and idolatry!

    I know that we are living in the “age of Grace” but that does not means that God stopped to apply some correction over His people!
    So I just want to share a few passages and verses that makes it pretty clear to me! Tell me what do you thin k about it:

    Joel 2:1-11( specificaly in verse 11 God says that HE IS IN CONTROL of this army)

    Oseah 13(the whole chapter,but look at verse 7-9)

    Ezekiel 14 (verse 19 is very specific)

    Ezekiel 16

    Jeremiah 23:9-20

    These are just a few passages that shows God’s judgement over people, but after judgement,of couse, God also talks about repentance and restoration!
    So yes, I believe that some bad things happens because God wants to teach us some lessons and we can see this kind of thing through the whole bible!

    1. Thank you for this response! I think you raise great points, and could be right, thus proving me wrong. I honestly don’t know. When we talked about this in sermon discussion, one person mentioned the Flood in Genesis 6 as perhaps the epitome of examples of God sending devastating judgment on the world. I chose not to talk about Old Testament examples such as the flood and ones such as you list above. My reason is that is hard to know to degree those accounts, including the prophetic accounts you mention, are intended to be factual history. For example, Joel is talking about a locust plague, and the Lord, in verse 11, is at the head of the army. So you are correct that this is a depiction of God in control. But control of what? As a prophetic passage, it could be a metaphorical reference to past human armies that attacked Israel. It could be a metaphorical reference to a future army of the Lord that comes in the end of days. Furthermore Joel’s larger point is that Israel should respond in repentance. My sense is that he was looking at a national situation of apostasy, and the factual plague of locusts, and envisioning a proper Israelite response of repentance, rather than trying to say that God meticulously controls all things. I know we get into wordplay here. I could very well be wrong. My sense continues to be that God does not meticulously control all things, but instead is right there with us in the midst of the pain, inviting us to trust in him, rely on him and follow his ways, though the pain might not stop.

  2. Thanks for your answer! Yes, I agreed with you: God does not meticulously control all things! And He is definetely by our side in the midst of pain, we can also agree in it! =)
    But I still believe that He is control of all things and can use a bad scenario to guide us through repentance,like He did a lot of times in the past!

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