And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Anytime tragedy occurs there is always a tendency to attribute the results as an act of God. Some even point to Romans 8:28 as the evidence that everything that happens comes from the hand of God.
This is not new. Across history, there are plenty of examples where people have claimed in the midst of suffering and tragedy that God was trying to tell us something.
This was true on All Saints Day, November 1, 1755, in Lisbon. At 9:40 in the morning while the churches were packed, an earthquake (of almost 7.0 on the Richter scale scientists today estimate) struck the city. Houses and churches swayed and then collapsed. No one knows for sure how many died that day in Lisbon, somewhere between 15,000 to 50,000.
In one day, the very foundation of faith in Lisbon and the world was shaken. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Where was God as this happened?
It didn’t take long for answers to these questions to start surfacing from the rubble. Some called into question the goodness of God. Others declared that the tragedy occurred because God was angry.
The churches were no different. Priests and preachers pointed fingers and assigned blame. Protestant preachers said that God sent the tragedy because of the Catholics. Priests blamed the Protestants. The only thing priests and preachers seemed to agree on was that the tragedy came from the hand of God.
There were others, who called into question this way of seeing and understanding God. Maybe God didn’t send the earthquake. Perhaps God was not angry. This way of thinking opened the door for a new way of thinking about the will of God.
As the Coronavirus sweeps across the planet and claims more and more lives the same questions and answers surface. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Where is God? Is God trying to tell us something?
That last question is the one that gets a lot of traction these days among people of faith. Some claim that God sent this virus to call us back to some idyllic past when we worshipped in a truer way. Others claim that God is angry and sent the virus to put us in our place.
While I disagree with those answers, I would agree that God is trying to tell us something in the midst of this crisis. It is the same thing He has always been trying to tell us. The message is clear—God is with us, always. God is for us and not against us. God loves us.
How can any Christian who has seen the grace and glory of God in the face of Christ claim that God sent this virus? God is not punishing us. God is with us. God is a very present help in our time of trouble. God did not send this virus, He sent Jesus.
Romans 8:28 does not claim that everything that happens comes from the hand of God. Instead, it says that in all things God can be found working for good. God is always trying to bring goodness and grace into every circumstance. The only question left for us, will we join Him in this effort?