In times of trouble, people tend to respond to God in one of two ways. Some people see the terrible things happening around them and they “become religious.” They try to make sense of the darkness and turn toward something, (sometimes anything), that can help them explain it. This is a good response to tragedy, (and is one of the reasons why God allows evil to happen), as long as it brings us to submit, trust and know God. Just becoming religious isn’t enough, but tragedy is often there to humble us so we can seek and submit to Lord Jesus.
But there is a second response that also tends to arise out of difficult circumstances, and it is one I have seen quite a bit in the news lately. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said, “Our behavior has stopped the spread of the virus. God did not stop the spread of the virus. And what we do, how we act, will dictate how that virus spreads.” Or on the front page of CNN, one of the main stories was about a Bishop who died from the virus while claiming he didn’t fear the virus. Both of these attempts, (and countless others), exist to pose this question: Where is your God?
If your God is so good, then why did he allow this to happen? Why did my relative have to die? Why won’t he stop this? Why are people losing jobs and thousands of dollars? If your good is so good and so powerful, where is he? These are not questions, (and quotations) born out of arrogance, but fear.
This should not surprise us, as this has been the response to God through the ages. In Exodus 5:2, when Pharaoh is confronted by Moses, says, “But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” Or just read the book of Judges to see God’s people turning to other gods when times get tough. The fact is that while people should realize their lack of control in hardships and turn to HE who is truly in control, many often do not and instead question his existence.
How are we to respond to those who question our God during these times? First, I think we need to check our own hearts and lives during times of tragedy. Are we struggling with the questions above? Or are we letting the march of the world against Christ influence our actions and affections? Be honest with yourself first, but then be honest with others who can pray with you, encourage you and hold you accountable. Too often, God’s people isolate during times when we need to be seeking accountability and counsel. Many through the years have walked away from Jesus during times of testing, (Matthew 26:31). Don’t be one of them.
Second, I think we need to respond gently to those who come with such questions. While our initial feeling may be of righteous indignation, I think we need to better understand the heart behind such questions and quotes. Like I said above, I firmly believe that these questions and actions are born out of fear, not arrogance. Because when people see how little control they have, they naturally start to fear. When they fear, they desperately try to get back whatever make believe control they thought they had. In that process, words that appear arrogant signal a deeper fear of the realization that they don’t have any control.
This is a time when people need Jesus and may even be more open to talks about Him even though they don’t sound like it. So check your own heart first. Don’t neglect meeting with other Christians to hold each other accountable and build one another up, (Hebrews 10:24-25). And then go and tell those who are living in fear about the great, sovereign love of our savior, (Matthew 28:18-20). Where is our God? He is reigning on the throne of the universe today just like we was before the coronavirus and just like He will be after and forevermore.