Can God really be good if He allows over 200,000 Americans to die from the coronavirus? This is the topic addressed in program 2 of Dr. Ankerberg’s series with Dr. Erwin Lutzer entitled Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters: What is God Saying to Us? (Part 2).
As they discuss, the existence of a good and loving God alongside the existence of evil in a fallen world are not mutually exclusive. The Bible offers at least three examples to support this conclusion.
First, God created a good world with the potential for evil rather than a perfect world. God can be perfect and create a universe in which both good and evil exist. When God created our world, He called it good (Genesis 1:4 and following). However, our world included humans with the ability to choose right and wrong. Adam and Eve chose to disobey the Lord, allowing sin to enter our world (Genesis 3).
Second, God created a world He predicted would include times of difficulty. Many Bible prophecies speak of troubled times that will take place before the Lord’s return and the creation of a new heavens and earth. These prophecies highlight that the God of the Bible allows evil to persist, but not for eternity. He has a long-term agenda that includes correcting every evil.
Third, God uses human struggles to fulfill His plans. While this does not belittle the pain we face during a pandemic or other difficult times, it does indicate the troubles we face include purpose. Noah faced a flood to bring his family and many animals to safety. Joseph endured slavery and imprisonment to save his family. Jesus endured the cross to provide salvation for everyone who believes.
Fourth, a pandemic or other life-and-death situation often causes people to turn to the Lord. God used judgments and sicknesses during Old Testament encounters to draw the attention of His people to Him. Still today, some impacted by Covid-19 have found the experience directing their heart toward God to serve Him with all their heart.
The Psalms often note the connection between the pains we face and our trust in the Lord. For example, Psalm 4:1 shares, “Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 42:11 adds, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Like Job concluded, sometimes we respond to God’s perfect knowledge even when we do not fully understand His ways. He concluded:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:2-3).
Can a good God allow evil such as the coronavirus? The biblical answer is yes. There are a variety of reasons God may allow such evil. In addition, we are sometimes left without a complete answer regarding why God allows a particular situation, yet can trust in His goodness and plans, knowing He can do all things.