In the national newspaper I read of recent some comments by some religious leaders (both Christian and Muslim) which attribute the Coronavirus pandemic to God. According to these religious leaders, “God through this [Coronavirus] pandemic is teaching the citizenry some lessons …. ” A renowned Islamic scholar and professor was reported to have described the COVID-19 pandemic as a spiritual punishment from Allah, as a result of accumulated sins.
However, I wish to use this medium to express my disagreement with the views presented above and to dispel these negative views about God from the minds of readers. As a Christian, my thoughts and opinions on this matter are guided by what I have learnt from God’s Inspired Word, The Bible. A case in study is the Bible’s account of Job, found in the Bible Book which bears his name – the Book of Job. In this book, we read about Job’s intense suffering, including his being afflicted with painful disease. However, the Bible describes Job as an upright man of integrity who feared God and shunned what was bad. (Job Chapter 1, Verse 1) However, three companions of Job who had come to sympathize with him and comfort him felt that Job’s suffering was as a result of his own wickedness and sins. But as we find in the concluding chapter of the Book of Job, God’s anger burned against Job’s three ‘false comforters.’ -Job 42:7.
In a similar way today, when we experience difficult trials or suffering, we may at some point begin to wonder if our suffering is punishment from God for our sins. Well, it is true that in some cases, our suffering may actually be as a result of sins we may have committed. The Bible says, at Galatians, Chapter 6, Verse 7: “Whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap.” So, some of our suffering can be brought on as a result of our own poor choices. For example, a person can choose to ignore the warning to avoid a harmful practice such as smoking, and then reap the bad consequences thereafter, such as developing a lung disease. His suffering is as a result of his own poor choice.
Much of our suffering also results from our sinful nature, which both good and bad people have inherited. That sinful nature contributes to physical and mental disorders as well as traits that cause people to harm one another.
Another reason for human suffering is what we find in the Book of 1 John, Chapter 5, Verse 19: ” . . . the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” This “wicked one” is Satan the Devil. He is vicious and cruel, and as the Bible says at Revelation 12:9, he is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” Many people imitate Satan. And that is just one other reason why the world is so full of lies, hatred, cruelty and suffering.
It is also good for us to take note of what the Bible says at James, Chapter 1, Verse 13: “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” Also, the words of Job 34:10: “It is unthinkable for the true God to act wickedly, For the Almighty to do wrong!”
However, some may still wonder: Are today’s pandemics punishment from God? I answer: NO! The Bible does not support the claim that God is using pandemics and other sicknesses to punish people today. Although the Bible reports a few occasions when God used sickness to punish people (for example, He caused some individuals to have leprosy), these isolated incidents, however, were not indiscriminate pandemics that spread to innocent people. Rather, such events were specific judgements on individuals who had clearly rebelled against God.
Daniel Ighakpe, FESTAC Town, Lagos