For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth … so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:10-11
The other day I had one of our very young people at church ask me if God created COVID. It was a great question, and got to the heart of a profound matter we all struggle with as people of faith at some point or another: if God loves us and God creates everything, why would God create anything that harms or hurts us?
When things are difficult and confusing (like these days of COVID) we tend to lean toward trying to find meaning and purpose in order to make sense of the nonsensical. When horrible accidents happen, when young children die of cancer, when the unexpectedness of tragedy befalls us and pandemics cast their shadow over the world, why does it happen? Why is God doing this?
Well, that presupposes that God is “doing this” in the first place. Is COVID among us because God created it to do us harm? Did we do something to deserve COVID? Remember that in Jesus’ day someone’s illness was believed to be the result of sin either by that individual or that person’s family. We deserved what happened to us because we did something wrong, and there was a purpose and a reason behind everything that all went back to God; especially punishment.
This, of course, solves the mysteries of living. When we don’t understand why people get terminally ill, or in car accidents, or perish in storms or by violence, if God is behind it and it’s “God’s will” then that quells our confusion. But does it?
I can far more easily live with the mysteries of when bad things happen to good people than struggle to understand why an all-loving, all-merciful, all-forgiving God would intentionally inflict pain and grief on innocent people for some sort of divine Purpose.
God of Mystery, when we struggle with the painful moments of life that confuse and frighten us, remind us that you are the Source of Compassion, not of suffering, and that you are there to get us through the valley, not the cause of it.