As coronavirus spreads, there is acute distress and anxiety around the world. I hear many people with questions such as, “Where is God in this moment of pain and death? Why is God silent in the midst of this calamity?” In the confusion of the pandemic, some people have found reasons to indict and vilify God. They think God is insensitive and passive in this moment of human anguish. Sadly, thousands of people have died within few days, and the figures are still rising exponentially.
As a result of the sorrowful situation, we direct our frustrations to God and to governments. There is no harm in questioning God when we find ourselves in desperate situations. Jesus questioned God when He hung upon the cross and was all alone. He cried out desperately:
“Eloi, Eloi lama sabachtani — My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
~ Matthew 27:46
His re-echoes the questioning cry of the Psalmist who asks God,
“Why are You so far from my call for help, from my cry of anguish?”
~ Psalm 22:2
It is not surprising that so many prophets emerge in the time of calamities and adversities. A few genuine prophets who have a sense of history, contemplate deeply before interpreting the meaning of the pandemic. These authentic prophets rely on God-given wisdom to explain the signs of the times.
So many pseudo prophets who lack solid credibility have seized the information superhighway to spread misinformation and bizarre conspiracy theories in an attempt to provide explanations for the pandemic. These false prophets are quick to interpret a calamity as a punishment from God. They think of God as a ruthless and brutal law enforcement agent who is always out to strike and kill offenders of the law. They forget that people suffer often for the consequences of their wrong decisions, actions and inactions.
There is not yet sufficient evidence to prove the origin of the coronavirus. So far, several theories are pointing to the fact that the virus was man-made and was meant to be a biological weapon. If this allegation is true, then the virus is a self-inflicted poison created by human scientists to destroy other human beings; it is apparently the case of virology gone wrong.
If Covid-19 is a human creation, then we can safely deduce that this dangerous virus exposes the dangers of unethical practices in the sphere of science and technology. The essence of science and technology is to facilitate human labour and to save and protect lives. We witness a deviation from the purpose of science and technology. Not too many scientists and technologists care about ethical practices. Moreover, the modern world has become so comfortable with science and technology, and has abandoned God who is omniscient, and from Whom we derive our knowledge and understanding.
A scriptural passage I love and which scientists, and especially virologists can lean on is from the book of proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path” (3:5-6). Obviously, in the quest for super-profit and economic supremacy, science and technology is contributing in the destruction of human kind. What is more, the ongoing pandemic demonstrates the limitation of scientific products. How can we expalin the scarcity of ventilators at a time when they are needed most?
If the prophet Jeremiah was sent to unethical scientists, he would have told them they have committed two sins:
“They have forsaken God, the spring of living water,
and they have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
~ Jeremiah 2:13
God is not to blame for all human errors and mischief. However, even in our waywardness, God brings us back to Himself, and despite our grievous faults, He grants us His mercy.
Surely in the ongoing pandemic we feel a sense of abandonment, and we desperately cry to God in disappointment.
The coronavirus pandemic comes at the time of Lent, when we reflect on the mystery of the agony, scourging, crowning, crucifixion and death of Jesus. It is a time when we reflect on the many trials and thorns that are found in the journey of life and on the way to Heaven. It is a time when we repeat the slogan of no cross, no crown; no thorn, no throne.
We often thank God for the beauty of the roses, but hardly thank Him for the thorns in the roses. We question God during adversity, but we hardly thank Him in the time of prosperity. The coronavirus has afflicted us, but God is working silently in saving many lives from the pandemic. The media gives us gloomy statistics of those who have died, but are slow to provide the demographics of those who narrowly escaped, those who survived and those who recovered.
The coronavirus is like a thorn in our flesh. It reminds us of the crown of thorns on the head of Jesus. As we listen to the passion reading, we hear what the soldiers did to Jesus.
“They plaited a crown of thorns and placed it on his head.”
~ John 19:2
This virus reminds us also of the thorn in the flesh of Paul. Three times he prayed for the thorn to be removed, and the Lord assured him:
“My grace is sufficient for you.”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
It goes without saying that the grace of God will support us in pulling through this scary period of global distress. The Psalmist assures us:
“The Lord will crown us with His mercy and compassion.”
~ Psalm 103:4
People who have experienced God know what God has done and what He can do, and can predict what He will do during the periods of pain and anxiety. He is the source of all comfort, and it is He who accompanies us through the darkness of life. Only those who have the eyes of faith can see the power of God at work. He knows; He understands; He cares; He listens to our cries; he will deliver us. I wish you a blessed Holy Week.