The COVID-19 pandemic is effecting everyone on earth. Almost no place or people has been untouched. And, much false information has been given on social media platforms and other places concerning God’s providence and how He is working during this time in history. The information is, for the most part, well-meant, but it is dangerously misleading. The most common error perpetrated on the public is that God won’t allow Christians to become infected with the virus, or if they are they won’t die. This not part of God’s providence. And, it violates at least two of His rules.
First, we must know exactly what God’s providence is and how He relates to us in the world. Providence is God’s perpetual care He exercises over the universe. It is connected to creation in that God would not create something He declares good and which He created for His sake, and then not care for it through eternity. He takes a particular interest in mankind, His highest creation. He watches over each of us individually and considers our hearts and works individually: “He looks from heaven; He sees the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works (Psalm 33: 13-15). God controls all things, including peace and calamity (Isaiah 45:6,7).
God’s providence is directed toward the fulfillment of His plan for creation wrought out in history through the preeminence of Christ and His work through Christians in this world: “For it pleases the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” ( Colossians 1: 19,20). So, we see that not only are all things are controlled by Christ, but the destiny of each individual person on earth whether Christian or not is determined by Him. The Greek word for reconcile means to change or exchange. In the New Testament it means to change the relationship of the sinner into a relationship with Him. It is God’s intended outcome that all people should come to Him through His work on the cross ( John 3:16).
God does not force all people to come to Him because forced compliance may alter acts and words, but it does not alter the heart. It does not make a change in who and what a person is. All persons are called, but few are chosen because they are the only ones who have accepted or will accept Him as Lord and Savior. Paul tells us that God, living outside of time, knows everything that has happened or will happen in His creation from eternity past to eternity future. Therefore, He has chosen those He knows will come to Him of their own free will “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons [and daughters] by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6; see 1:1-14).
How God works out His providence is often unintelligible to us. He, knowing all things and all past and future, has determined how to best work out His plan of reconciling all things to Himself. We don’t have the knowledge, hindsight, and foresight that God has. Therefore, we are often baffled by the means He uses to carry out His plans for the reconciliation of all things. We do know from the historical books of the Bible that God has often expressed His displeasure with His highest creation’s actions by utilizing natural disasters and plagues to cause the people to return to Him. I am convinced that the COVID-19 virus, the floods, tornados, and storms in the world, and the United States, in particular, are being used by God to bring us back to Him. But aren’t listening to Him.
Now, getting back to the false claim that God will not let any Christian die of the virus. This is a dangerous and irresponsible statement. And, it shows a basic lack of understanding of God’s word. Jesus told the devil that there are three primary things that govern our relationship with God: First, we don’t live by just worldly things, even food and water, but by the word of God. Second, we are not to tempt God by ignoring our safety and expecting Him to save us. We need to do our part to ensure our safety. And third, we are not to serve other masters either material or human (Matthew 4: 1-11; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1-4). Accordingly, we need to follow all the guidelines for staying safe during the pandemic such as wearing masks and social distancing in public, and staying home as much as possible. How each of us comes through the pandemic is determined by God according to His plan for each of us.
However, I am also convinced that God will not let a Christian die if it is not in His will for that person to die of the virus, or an accident, or by any other means. We will be able to continue our work He has planned for us. We are His ambassadors on earth. The Hebrew words for ambassador mean one who goes on an errand, or an interpreter. In the New Testament an ambassador is one who is on an errand for Christ. That is, Christians carry out Christ’s plan for their lives that furthers the Father’s ultimate goal of bringing all things to Him. What that job is can be mostly unknown to us. God told Abraham to leave his home, but didn’t tell him where he was going or why. I can imagine the conversation at home when Abraham told Sarah to start packing: “Start packing Sarah, we’re leaving here”. Sarah is perplexed: “Why?” “Because God told us to leave”. Sarah’s next question was, obviously, “Where are we going?” “I don’t know,” Abraham replies, ” but where ever it is, we’re going there.” Well, you can imagine the reaction you’d get at home today from that conversation! But Abraham and Sarah did leave. They had faith in and trusted God’s guidance. And, God lead them to a much better place. He became the father of the Jewish people.
Notice the key point here: It’s doing something. It’s action. You can’t follow God’s plan for your life by sitting around thinking about it, you have to take action. In other words, you can’t steer a parked car. Here’s the point: Only God will ultimately overcome COVID-19. Human effort will control it to an extent, but it won’t be beaten until God beats it, and He won’t stop it until His people, Christians, do their assigned part in getting the world to return to Him. But practice safe procedures. Stay home, wear a mask in public, and stay a safe distance from others when you do have to go out.
You can still witness to others, call, text and email friends and family. Get on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or other social media of your choice. Let everyone know that to overcome the pandemic we as a world need to return to God. They may think you foolish is they’re not Christians. But Paul said he was a fool for Christ, and he wrote the majority of the New Testament. You can be part of writing history today. Get started today.