Why would God allow a Pandemic?

We are speaking of a God who destroyed the living world by water during the time of Noah because of the wickedness of its inhabitants. This is the same God who showered brimstone and fire on Sodom from heaven because of their sin. This is the God who plagued the powerful Pharoh and his countrymen with things such as boils, infestations, and death in order to deliver the Israelites from bondage. Later on, this is the same God who revealed to His servants that this whole world is reserved to be consumed by fire in the end times. Certainly, it is not beyond such a God’s power to cause or control a pandemic like COVID.

But why would God allow a Pandemic?

Some would say the coronavirus pandemic is God’s judgment or the start of “the end times.” Some suggest it’s a wake-up call for Christians, a revival call of sorts. I don’t know that anyone can truly know for sure. God doesn’t always say why, nor is He obligated to tell us why.

Official White House Photo D. Myles Cullen taken from Flickr

Psalm 23 talks about the Shepherd taking the psalmist into the valley of the shadow of death. It doesn’t say why He took him there, but it does say of God, “You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” The psalmist also finds himself in the presence of his enemies (verse 5). It doesn’t say why God put him there, but he does say of God, “You prepare a table before me…[and] anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” The psalm ends with a convincing statement that God will always bless (though maybe not always in the form we imagine His blessing will come).

Another important thing to observe about “the valley of the shadow of death” is how the psalmist and his Shepherd got there. While the psalm doesn’t specifically say, it’s implied the Shepherd led him there. Just like when the disciples found themselves in such a terrible storm that they awoke Jesus for help—guess whose idea it was to go out on the sea? Jesus’ (Mark 4:35).

What’s important is to know who God is and to trust Him. He’s loving—more than any of us can ever imagine. He’s wise—wiser than anything any human could come up with. And He’s powerful—more than any earthly power anyone has created or seen, and beyond any of our biggest imaginations. God always was that way, is still that way, and will always be that way.

It may seem that “the floods have lifted up their waves” (Psalm 93:3) and we’re about to be swept away. But “the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea” (Psalm 93:4). No matter what’s going on, whatever “storm” may be surging across the world or just inside one’s soul, it changes nothing for God.

Look at what Psalm 119:89-90 says about God’s enduring faithfulness and unchangingness. “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations.” Has He ever let His people down? Has He ever failed to deliver on any of His promises? History shows His trustworthiness, and there’s no reason there will be any exception now.

Four principles to remember:

The issue of “why” is assuredly one of the frequently raised questions whenever tragedy strikes in a nation, or household, or an individual’s life. Like the biblical character of Job, we long to know why God would permit suffering, particularly when it occurs in our own lives. In this regard, I believe there are four important principles that need to be borne in mind.

  1. We live in a fallen world in which tragedy and disaster are intrinsic. 

Romans 8:22 tells us that “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” When Adam committed sin the physical creation over which he was to rule fell under a curse. Natural disasters and tragedies are a direct consequence of that sin. However, it will not always be so. The same passage tells us that “creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Our eternal future is a re-formed universe in which there is no more suffering or death or weeping. 

  1. God’s love is never diminished. 

God has declared, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). The love of God is unchanging and never diminishes. His love is not affected by circumstances – even the worst disasters and difficulties. Again, the Bible tells us, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). God will take care of us.

  1. God can use tragedies for good. 

Difficult times bring us closer to God. We can think of an analogy of a young child frightened by a barking dog who runs to his father and clings to his leg. In the same way, uncertainty and fear should lead us to cling to our heavenly Father and to trust wholly in Him. A very pertaining illustration is the story of Joseph. Though he suffered injustice and malice as a child, he could later say “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 NKJV). God’s children have the assurance of this principle in every circumstance. 

  1. Our understanding of the “whys” is limited. 

When Job suffered affliction at the hands of Satan he questioned why God would permit it. His “comforters” assumed that Job harbored evil self-righteousness or some other punishable trait or attitude. Meanwhile, Job repeatedly asserted to both God and his comforters the purity of his heart and actions and questioned how God could punish him in light of his virtuous living. Neither Job nor his comforters had any idea that Job was actually the center of attention of angelic beings who had assembled to witness Job’s faith in God. That “why” would have never entered Job’s mind nor have been considered as even a possibility by his comforters.  So it is with us. The “why” may never be revealed to us in this present world but we may be assured that God indeed has a good “why.”


 Pool Writing Program:  This is a new writing initiative by Renew In Knowledge. This article is developed by Jim Haesemeyer, David Friedli, Merlyn John, and Dijo John.


God’s master plan of the church– the first article developed through Pool Writing Program