Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Photo credit: Sky News
How do we understand God and the pandemic? Is the COVID-19 outbreak simply a natural phenomenon? Is it a judgment from God? Or is it something else?
Many people are asking or thinking about what God is up to with this current pandemic. Certainly, this is an important time for personal reflection regarding our hearts toward God. As pastor Bill Gemaehlich recently stated related to COVID-19 in his Facebook LIVE sermon, "God's got my attention!"
Yesterday, in a webinar, Pandemics, Prophecy and the Middle East, a panel of experts discussed this question...How do we understand God and the pandemic? They examined surveys polling people's beliefs regarding the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgment. Based on a survey of 1000 evangelical pastors (chosenpeople.com/site/eschatologysurvey), 91% of the respondents stated that Christ will literally and personally return to earth again (Rev. 22:20). Regarding communicating about Christ's return, 89% agreed that this is urgently needed (Matt. 29:19-20). The webinar also cited the Joshua Fund Survey (JoshuaFund.com), which showed that 44% of Americans polled (believers and unbelievers) think that the pandemic is a "wake up for us to turn back in faith to God," a sign of "coming judgment" or both (Rev. 1:7).
One of the webinar panelists, Dr. Darrell Bock, pointed out that the Bible shows us both the importance of anticipating the Lord's soon return, as well as that of believers being faithful witnesses until He does. In other words, the two ideas of expectancy and faithful living are held in tension; we want to do both and not simply move in one direction. Concerning the current pandemic and our response to God during it, Bock says, "God is reminding us of our need for Him, our dependence on Him, the fact that we are mortal, that we don't control what is going on around us, that we are not gods." He goes on the say, "As creatures created by the Creator God, we need to be aware of what He is asking of us as creatures made in His image."
Related to prophecy pertaining to the Lord's return, as one studies the book of Revelation we find this same emphasis: our eager anticipation of the Lord's return, which is then walked out through our faithfulness to Christ (Heb. 9:28; Jas. 5:7). In response to our question regarding God and the pandemic, certainly we can see this plague as a sign of our times, a birth pain of the coming of the Lord (Matt. 24:3-14); Luke 21:10-36). At the same time as we anticipate His Second Coming, we want to be found faithful—walking-out our lives in hope and perseverance until that Day dawns (Phil. 1:6; Rev. 3:8).
I recently published a women's Bible study, Come Lord Jesus: A Woman's Walk—Spirit, Body & Soul—Through the Book of Revelation that focuses on this very purpose: building an eager desire for the Lord's return with a focus on what the Lord is asking of us in our lives today. If there is an upside in today's pandemic, it is the hitting of the pause button long enough to evaluate how we are responding to our Creator God in light of His soon return. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." His return is something to be lived for hopefully and with an active faith! Let's do this thing!