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The Christian Response to Tragedy

Why does a loving God allow a pandemic that kills good and bad alike? I have been asked similar questions several times by non-believers challenging the existence of God. Their logic goes like this: If you say, God is love, a loving God would not allow this, therefore, God is not love, therefore, God does not exist. Albeit, this is an abbreviated form of their argument nevertheless, it is the essence of it. There is nothing inherently wrong with the original question itself, for both believers and non-believers alike, quite naturally ask it in the midst of a tragedy, but the difference lies in our response to it.


Richard Dawkins wrote, "In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice." Here we have the atheistic response to the question. Our fate is determined by cold statistical probabilities, if your numbers up, it's up, that's it and there is nothing more to it. There is no comfort in believing this and it only leads to a despair, that says," you are alive, only to face, once again, the outcome of another big spin of the 'Wheel of Fortune.'" This raises a question. Why cry out against the injustice of tragedy if this is simply the way the world is? Ravi Zacharias argues that, "when we object to suffering we invoke a moral law that can be traced back to the One from whom the law originates, none other than God himself. The fact that we raise these very questions points us towards God, not away from Him." 

In Nietzsche's book, The Birth of Tragedy, he wrote this, "The gods justified human life by living it themselves- the only satisfactory [response to the problem of suffering] ever invented." Unfortunately, Nietzsche was writing about the ancient Greeks and never made the connection to Christianity. As a Christian we can not but agree with him, as we point to the life of Christ and the cross on which he suffered and died on. We see the absolute uniqueness of the Christian response to suffering, for only in Christ do we have a loving God who was loving enough to suffer and die for us.

The corona virus is a natural evil, under God's sovereignty. The very existence of it is the result of original sin, the root of all human pain and suffering in this world. This then begs the question we ask God, " Why me, why my loved one, why my friend?" If we look to the Bible for an answer we can find God's answer to us.

 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

  "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" (John 11:25-26)

"Many are the plans of a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21)

" 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,'declares the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8)

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelations 21:4)

Let me summarize this for you. Some things are a mystery to us (Isaiah 55:8), (Proverbs 19:21). We may never know why God allowed this pandemic to happen. This we do know, that God has a good purpose for doing so. (Romans 8:28) Death is not the end game for us therefore we are left with hope and not despair. (John 11:25-26), (Revelation 21:4) Yes, the believer will mourn the loss of our loved ones but we know there is eternity ahead. As the old hymn goes, our faith is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and his righteousness, all else is sinking sand. This is what the believers response to tragedy is, the unbeliever's is sinking sand.

Posted by Art Flickinger