Does God have control of COVID?
When struggling to feel confident about something I profess to believe is true, I’ve found it helpful to think through the alternative. What would follow from it being untrue?
For instance, I believe that I am not going to contract COVID-19 unless God allows it to happen, and that for a morally justifiable reason. Necessarily then, I must believe that he has absolute control over even the tiniest things in the universe, like the submicroscopic virus. He either does or he doesn’t, right?
So let’s say he doesn’t. What follows from that?
- God is not completely sovereign over the universe. There are some things impossible for him to control. He is not the traditional conception of God as a maximally great being, because we can conceive of a being who does have control over viruses. So God is less than maximally great.
- People would die apart from his will. The Bible teaches that God has numbered our days . . . that he gives life and takes it away. If he doesn’t control viruses, he doesn’t have ultimate control over life and death.
- Consider the ripple effect of just one person’s illness or death on those around him. Now multiply that by a million. Countless events which were not in God’s sovereign plan would dot the pages of the personal histories of millions, as well as the histories of the nations they inhabit.
- An agent too tiny to see with an ordinary microscope would have power superseding that of the one who created the universe and everything in it.
If God cannot keep me from getting COVID, he is not the God I worship. The God I have come to know through creation, conscience, Scripture, and experience cannot be thwarted by anyone or anything. He has a plan for my life, and it may involve me getting sick from the virus or even dying of it. But because he loves me as a father loves his child, I can know that no harm will befall me that he has not justifiably allowed or ordained to happen.
This doesn’t mean that I flout all reasonable safety recommendations. As I wrote about here, engaging in what I have good reason to believe is particularly risky behavior but still expecting God to protect me is in effect an effort to manipulate him. He’s not too fond of that, and I should expect instead to be disciplined. So I don’t go to COVID parties and boast that I’m immune because of my faith.
But I also don’t pass on parties if there’s no mask requirement. (I may pass on it because I don’t care for parties in general, but that’s for a different post.) I fully recognize it’s possible one or more of my fellow partygoers may unknowingly be a carrier of the virus, but also that something in the pot luck party fare is a carrier of food poisoning. Or that a wrong-way drunk driver may slam into me head-on after I leave that party for home. There are ordinary risks we assume every day so that we can live an ordinary existence. Getting sick from a seemingly healthy virus carrier is just one of them.
- A bug is no match for God.
- He’s my heavenly Father who loves me.
- I live without fear of things I can’t see because I know he sees them and has absolute control over them.
And when it comes to the coronavirus, I participate in maskless gatherings with family, friends, and coworkers, and would not hesitate to shop or dine out where masks are not required. These activities have always come with a measure of risk, and that will still be the case when this pandemic is past.
What’s riskiest of all, though, is if you gather, shop, and dine maskless and God-less, i.e. without faith and trust in the God who is in control. But that, again, is for a different post.