The eleventh chapter of John tells the story of the death of Lazarus and Jesus’ raising him from the dead. Jesus did not immediately rush to rescue him from death; instead he waited four days, or until there was no doubt that Lazarus was really dead. At that time, many were questioning why Jesus waited so long. Surely he could have healed Lazarus immediately, why wait so long? Lazarus was suffering, his loved ones were in torment, why wait?
In Acts chapter 16, Paul wanted to go to Bithynia to spread the Gospel. But the Holy Spirit prevented him from doing so. Why? Surely telling the Bithynians about Jesus was important, why stop his ministry from going there? Many are asking similar questions today:
Many are asking similar questions today: why are so many getting sick and dying from Covid-19? Why aren’t our medical and civil leaders doing something to prevent this disease from spreading? If God is really in control, why isn’t he doing something?
The answer to these questions is not simple. Medical researchers cannot just snap their fingers and produce solutions. Medical research can take years. And even if a possible solution comes along, it takes a long time of testing to ensure there are no side reactions that may be worse than the disease they are designed to cure. Congress, the President of the United States, our state governor, other civil leaders are just as helpless as we are to formulate solutions. They may design fiscal relief, but they cannot cure the disease.
God could cure the disease by snapping his fingers. But Scripture is clear, it is not the way God works. Jesus delayed raising Lazarus from the dead so that the multitudes could see the power of God at work. Paul was hindered from entering Bithynia because God wanted him to go to Greece. I do not know exactly why God has allowed Covid-19 to spread so widely, but I do know that the sinful nature of this world is at work here. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin has reigned in this world. Sicknesses, storms, earthquakes, plagues, every type of evil have been the order of the day. And the last result of sin is that we will all die, whether from Covid-19 or from some other condition.
And actually, this is good. If we lived forever in this world, we would live forever in a state of sin with all its painful consequences. But when we die, we have God’s promise of a better eternal world waiting for those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The wages of sin is death, and while we deserve to die for our sin, we have God’s action that saves us from that penalty. God became a man in Jesus Christ to die for our sin. Jesus, being God, never sinned: he was perfect. The sin he died for was not for his own, it was to pay the penalty for our sin. Jesus died on the cross to rescue us from death. We have his promise that all our sin has already been forgiven. Believing in Him and trusting in his saving act of dying for our sin, we have the guarantee that when we die we do not die eternally. All we are doing is leaving this sinful world in order to enter His eternal world, where there is no more Covid-19, no more storms, no more mosquitoes. This is good, and we should rejoice in God’s salvation and happily wait for the day that we will see God face to face and live in His presence for ever.
In the meantime, we endure whatever comes in our lives and at the same time thanking God that whatever happens to us here, we have his promise that this world does not last, but his world lasts forever. He promises us that we will enjoy His eternal home when we place all our hope and trust in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. So, we pray that God will protect us from disease, but no matter what happens we rejoice that a better life than this one awaits us in Jesus Christ.
Richard H. Snyder is a retired pastor of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.