This is really the biggest question of our day in the midst of this Covid-19 crisis. It is a question that every generation has to decide when tragedy strikes and trouble looms. Our view of God determines how we will live in these days!
Deism believes in a supreme being who created the universe but is not directly involved in His creation. This unbiblical philosophy believes that God passively sits by allowing the events of history to unfold according to fate or natural law. Theism on the other hand believes that God still plays an active role in the world and in history. When the world seems to be unraveling, the most comforting truth we can know is that God is actively involved in everyday life. When we look at the biblical account rather than philosophy, we find that God is providentially in control of everything, even viruses!
We Go to the Bible
Only the Bible gives us a clear picture of who is really in control. The Bible portrays God as not only a powerful God who is the author of all history working out His mysterious will in the world, but also as a loving God who can be trusted. Theologians typically call the governance of the world, “providence.” J. I. Packer provides an excellent definition of providence,
“The unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory” (Providence, The New Bible Dictionary, London: The InterVarsity Fellowship, 1962), 1050-51).
To say it succinctly, the Bible teaches us that God is continually caring for His creation, absolutely ruling over all of creation (including viruses) and powerfully sustaining His creation (Prov 19:21). A brief survey of Scripture reveals these glorious truths.
God governs: The Bible teaches us that God is actively involved in governing all of creation, both inanimate and human creatures. God is called the Ruler of all things (1 Chronicles 29:12), and the blessed and only Sovereign (1 Tim 6:15). The prophet Jeremiah declared, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?” (Lam 3:37). Daniel wrote that God “does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Dan 4:35, see also 4:17). The great theologian and church father Augustine said of God, “Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen: He either permits it to happen, or he brings it about himself.” (see also Ps 115:3, 135:6, 139:13, 16, Prov 16:9, 19:21, Ecc 7:13)
God sustains: Not only did God create all things, but He also sustains the entire universe day by day and hour by hour. God preserves all things that He made and causes them to maintain the properties with which He created them. Scripture tells us that the Lord Jesus actually “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3), and that “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17). Everything continues because God is lovingly guiding the stars (Is 40:26), the rain (Ps 147:8-9), and even individuals (Acts 17:25- 28). God provides daily food (2 Cor 9:10), and gives us breath (Job 34:14-15, Ps 104:29).
God Cares: If God were not a good God, His sovereignty would be something to fear. But the Scripture is clear that God loves His people. We are not to worry because we have a “heavenly Father” who loves us and cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). Since the God of the universe cares about the sparrow, Jesus says, don’t you know He loves and cares for His children and their every need (Matt 6:25-27). God told His people through the prophet Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer 31:3).
It’s Our Time to Shine
As the world continues to be fearful, this is our time to shine as “bright stars in the universe” (Phil 2:14-15). This is our time to shine faith and trust in our God. How do we do this? We preach to ourselves, we pray and act wisely, and we trust God!
Preach to yourself: Continually remind yourself that God is in control of this coronavirus crisis. The little virus that is wreaking havoc and fear in our world is NOT in control. Because God is in control we can rest and have peace knowing that our heavenly Father loves us and cares for us day by day and hour by hour! When the world around us panics, we remember “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Let all of this sink into our hearts. God is working for our good in all of this! As Bible believing Christians, we find our comfort and strength in the fact that there is not even one single event that happens in this life outside the sovereign control of our almighty God.
Prayer & Prudence: When Nehemiah faced the trouble of life-threatening forces against him, he prayed and acted wisely. He said, “And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night” (Neh 4:9). Nehemiah’s trust in the Lord did not cause him to act unwisely but rather prudent. But notice Nehemiah first led his people to pray! Then he acted wisely and used the means that God had given him. The same is true of the Apostles Peter and John when they were threatened by the Jewish Sanhedrin and commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. The first thing they did was pray. Notice that they acknowledged the sovereignty of God as they prayed.
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them… They [Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles and Jews] did whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness. (Acts 4:24, 28-29)
In both cases, it was the sovereignty of God that led these godly men to pray. Because God is sovereign we know that He is able to answer us. If God were not sovereign our prayers would be in vain.
Trust God: We don’t know what the outcome of this virus will be from a health or economic standpoint. But we must not fear! We must not put our hope in our finances or our health. We must trust that the Lord is good and His will is perfect. We must acknowledge that His wisdom is far greater than our own. With the Apostle Paul we declare, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways (Rom 11:33). God’s wisdom is fathomless; His decisions are unsearchable; His methods are mysterious and untraceable (Is 55:8-9). It is wrong for us to demand from God an explanation of what He is doing in the world (Job 42:3). He does not owe us an explanation. But what is required of us is to put our trust in Him. While we may never have an explanation or even see the “good” of what God is doing, we must resign ourselves to the wisdom of God and not lean on our own understanding, but rest in our hearts having our souls stilled (Ps 131:2).
We can do this because we know our God is ultimately the one in control!