The subject arose when I was talking to a seminary professor about the Spanish Flu of 1918.
“Look up pestilence; you’ll see it’s always associated with the judgment of God,” he said. So I did look it up, first in the dictionary: “pestilence – an epidemic.” I then went to my Bible concordance, and pestilence was in fact mentioned a number of times as it related to God’s judgment.
I am not one to presume to know the mind of God. We have learned a lot about science since the Bible was written. At one time, people believed the elements – like thunder and lightning – were directly tied to messages from God. Today, not so much. Yet that doesn’t mean God couldn’t use the elements to communicate to us. In the same way, we now understand how bacterial infections and viruses work from a biological standpoint, but that doesn’t mean God couldn’t use them for His purposes.
Whether God sends an epidemic or simply allows it is not a question for me to answer. What is clear from the Bible, however, is what our response should be: humble prayer and repentance. When we encounter trials, God is not looking for us to proudly shout, “I got this!” He is looking for us to search our hearts, clean up our side of the street, to love and forgive others, and to go to Him in humility to ask for help. He is the all-knowing and all-powerful one, not us.
I have learned over the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic we do not have all the answers we need. It is a problem bigger than us, and one we can’t fix in any timely manner.
Perhaps it is time we really let that sink in and turn our hearts towards the One who is bigger and stronger than all of this, who has the power to save and to grant wisdom and strength for the day. Perhaps this is a reminder to go to Him not just now, but in our everyday lives.
When we do our part to honor God and love our neighbors, we can humbly go to God in prayer for healing of our bodies, of our souls, of our relationships, and of our land. He is a God who loves, who listens, and who cares. We don’t have all the answers, but He does. But in order to get them, we must first humbly go to Him and ask.
“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust swarms to eat up all of your crops, or if I send an epidemic among you, then if my people will humble themselves and pray, and search for me, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (The Living Bible)
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. – Psalms 91:1-3 (NIV)