If God really knows everything, why didn’t he stop Coronavirus happening?
I think I believe in God and I think He's real. But I just don't get why bad stuff like this happens. I mean - if he's all-powerful why doesn't he just do something about it and stop it before more people get sick or die and so we don't all have to stay on lockdown?
David, 15, Nottingham
Well David that is a tricky one isn’t it - and you’re definitely not the only one to be asking that. And I am aware lots of people would answer it differently - but for what it is worth, here's what I think…
I guess to understand this we have to go back to the beginning; the way the world was created and set up. In Genesis - whether you think this is a ‘for real’ blow by blow account of how God created everything or a great fable or story to teach the core truths of how he made the world, what it tells us is that the world starts out as nothing - Genesis 1:2 says it is formless and empty - literally the words here say it is chaos and confusion - BUT God’s spirit is hovering over - the NIV says ‘the waters’ but the ancient Hebrew is a darker word - we’d say it more like the abyss. There’s something almost sinister about this swirling mess of darkness and confusion. But God’s spirit hovers - and takes this confusion and chaos and nothing and makes - something. God transforms it bringing order and beauty and separating things into clear opposites: water and land, light and dark, day and night - he creates rhythm and routine and promise and possibility so things can grow and flourish and LIFE begins…
And then, in Genesis 1:27 God makes humans - and TOTALLY CRUCIALLY, he puts them in charge. Literally. In v28 people are given CONTROL over the whole earth and everything in it and their JOB is to maintain what God has begun - some translations say ‘subdue’ but it’s really about maintaining that order God has brought in.
From the start, humans don’t do great at that. You could say God made us all control freaks, it’s in our nature as we were created to control the earth - but they wanted ALL of the power. God only told them one thing they shouldn’t do but the story of Genesis 2 is how they went against God’s rules for living to do it their own way. And as a result they introduced all kinds of things that were not part of God’s dream for the world and all the amazing things in it - including pain and sickness and some difficult emotions like shame and guilt.
And throughout genesis - which is alike a story of the earliest history of the human race - we see people, again and again, doing this - they want to do it their own way not follow God, and they introduce all kinds of bad stuff. And by chapter 6 God sounds pretty much in despair - v5 says that every thought of humans was evil, all of the time.
So this is where the flood story happens - and what’s interesting here is that whilst it does rain for 40 days, and we’ve all heard the story of Noah and the ark and stuff - but it isn’t just rain that floods the earth - in Genesis 7:11 we read that same ‘abyss’ that God hovered over and transformed in Genesis 1:2 ‘bursts forth’ - it’s like when humans turn from God that chaos and confusion bubbles up from within creation itself and stuff happens and develops that was never part of God’s dream.
And that’s where it feels like we are now - with SUCH a clear example of something like that. We don’t totally get where coronavirus came from but it seems some of the decisions of people in their control of God’s creation are implicated in how this virus was able to mutate and develop and start to infect people and spread. And then more human decisions influence how we respond…
So God COULD have stopped coronavirus - but to do so would mean him GIVING UP on the way he set up the world, giving it to humans, putting them in charge. And the bible tells us one day God will return and restore his ultimate order and dream for this world and all the people living in it. And in that time there will be no more crying or sorrow or pain - or coronavirus. But for now, people are in charge and its US who have the responsibility and the opportunity to bring little bits of God’s dream to the bits of his world we act and interact with. So every time you bring something GOOD - when you love or care for other people or look after something we see a little flicker of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Which is pretty awesome.