by Brad Beals
“Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it?”
We believe that God is not caught off guard by evil, and that no event or condition surprises Him or happens outside of His ordained will. We believe that God is sovereign over all things because He has said that about Himself, and we believe that God’s word is true. Yes, we accept these things. But what now? What do we do once we’ve acknowledged that COVID-19, like everything else in all of creation, is a part of God’s eternal decree (WCF c.3)?
Here are a few things we do…
1 We believe that all things are for His glory. Recall the doctrine of divine simplicity, that God is not made up of parts; rather, He IS each of His attributes. How then do we answer the question of God’s glory in COVID-19? Which attribute is He showing forth today? Does God love his children? Yes, perfectly. Is God terrible in His judgments? Yes, perfectly. Is God merciful and long-suffering? Yes, perfectly. Could we keep going? You bet. No doubt God has an intricate mix of purposes for this crisis, but it is not for us to analyze exactly what that might be. Anyone looking on Joseph’s being sold into slavery might have assumed it was God’s judgment on him. Maybe it was, but it was obviously much more (Gen 50:20). We can’t be sure of everything God purposed in Joseph’s life or in ours, but we can be sure that it is for His glory (Ps 135:6, Is 45:7, Col 1:16).
2 We trust that all things are for our good. God is good to us, and our good will include discipline because God disciplines those He loves (Psalm 94:12, Prov 3:12). Our good will include sanctification because discipline, though painful, “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”(Heb. 12:11). But it also may be that we’re not privy to what our good is until we’re with Christ in Glory. God knows how much to reveal and how much to withhold (Deut. 29:29). And while the hidden things belong to God, we can and should know that God is only ever good and merciful to those who belong to Him. Trust that God is good.
3 We look for grace in whatever he ordains. The scriptures are full of glimpses of hope in the midst of calamity and judgment. Adam and Eve are cursed and banished from the Garden, but already there is the gospel promise (Gen 3:15). The doom of the Old Testament prophetic books is peppered with promises and offerings of God’s mercy. In the middle of the book of Lamentations (a whole book of prophetic judgments) we read this: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.” And throughout Revelation’s frightening images of death there is the victorious Christ, the worthy Lamb who was slain. In all that God does, grace abounds.
Whatever crisis we find ourselves in, we can keep returning to these foundational truths: that God is always for us, that God will always be glorified, and that there is always grace for those who trust in him.