During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
“Where is your God?”
That’s the question opponents used to taunt the psalmist in Psalm 42. This challenge to his faith only added to his depression and sense of isolation.
“Where is your God?” When disaster strikes, whether war or tsunami or coronavirus, this is the inevitable question, “Where is your God?” Where is He now? Where is God in this?
Some ask it as scoffers, denying the very notion that there is a God. Others as it as believers, wondering why God has allowed bad things to happen in the world He made and controls. Still, others ask it as those searching for answers to the crisis they face right now in their lives.
For all that we can say about the human and natural origins of COVID-19, and the research on this will certainly continue for a time, the natural explanations cannot satisfy the inherent sense of God that lives in our never-dying souls.
We believe that there is a God – one true God – who created the world and controls it so completely that nothing happens apart from His will.
Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. “ (Matthew 10:29-30) If even sparrows and hairs are in His almighty hand, so are bacteria and viruses.
So why did God not stop this virus? Why has He plagued our planet with this pestilence?
It would be arrogant for us to say we know exactly what God is doing at all times and why He is doing it. The Bible says, “How unsearchable are His judgments and how unexplainable are His ways!” (Romans 11:33) Whatever He does or allows, happens in His perfect wisdom and for His good purposes, even when that wisdom and purpose of God are hidden from us.
He is God and we are not. Let us humble ourselves before that unalterable fact of life. He is the Potter and we are the clay. Let us fall down in reverence before the Lord of all creation.
Still, we have the question, “Where is your God?” We know this: He is right here. He is both above this epidemic ruling over it, and in it working through it. In our secular worldview which has tried to chase God out of the centre and put Man there instead, God is showing Himself to us in a powerful way.
We want a life without God. We want to be God. We want to declare Him unnecessary. But once again God is reminding us how fragile this world is, and how mortal we are. Just when we thought pandemics are a thing of the past and we have got the world under our control now, we find ourselves shockingly unprepared, frightened, and small.
Before the final judgment comes, God is at work in this disease now, calling us to repent, and to honour Him as God before it’s too late.
But God is here in this fallen, messy world in another way: He is with us in the suffering. At the centre of history and of the Christian faith stands a cross and the one who died there is God Himself. (see Colin Hansen, “John Lennox on Where to Find God During COVID-19,” The Gospel Coalition, April 2, 2020)
“Where is your God?“ He is with us. His name is Jesus. He came and joined our suffering. God loved this world so much, a world lost in sin and misery, that He sent His Son to suffer and die with us and for us. He suffered our judgment and punishment on the cross so that whoever believes in Him has a doorway of hope out of suffering and death.
But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning. That changes everything! For those who belong to Jesus, suffering doesn’t have the last word; victory does. Death is not the end of the journey; life is. By believing in Jesus we receive a life that will outlast coronavirus and every other form of suffering.
So through this terrible virus let’s learn to take God seriously. Sometimes He turns things upside down in order to put things right-side up in our lives.
“Where is your God?” He is in heaven, ruling over everything. And He is here. He is with you in your suffering when you ask Him to take your life in His hand and rescue you. Then you are not alone. As David said in Psalm 23, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.“
When God is with me, I have everything I need. He is enough.