Disease, Suffering, Death, and COVID-19 (Job 1:21-22)


Submitted by Andy McIlvain. 

Job 1:21-22

In my day to day employment in healthcare, disease, suffering, and death are ever before me. The list of names of patients, many of them friends that have suffered and died on my watch, is lengthy.

At this moment in time, we are living with the reality of a massive worldwide disease, a pandemic. Around the globe people are getting sick, dying, and grieving. The COVID-19 virus presents itself in most people as a bad cold with fever, which can be spread to others more vulnerable. The majority of people recover.

This is not a catastrophic event for humanity, although it will seem so to many. Christians have always been at the center of human tragedy, many at the risk of their own lives. Sacrifice and compassion, as demonstrated by our Lord Jesus, requires all of us to be selfless and available to those in need during such times.

Fear is a human reflex, but it does not rule or define the Christian way of life. Even unto death we move forward in service. Paul stated that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Sickness and death are part and parcel of our lives and world. When Adam and Eve lived in the garden, before the fall, they existed without illness or disease. The human spiritual act of sin introduced decrepitude (aging, disease etc.) as judgement into creation from top to bottom. No creature is unaffected. The Bible calls this futility.

The hard part is how we will cope with adversity, disease, and death when it comes. It will come. Will we depend on the Lord and on the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit, glorifying God and enjoying him now and at the hour of our death? For the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away (Job 1:21).

When we say God’s ways are not our ways, we mean that creation is so complicated and interrelated that we as finite beings cannot begin to comprehend it. Cause and effects in our life and times are a thread of events and choices that go back many years, generations, cultures and circumstances.

Jesus was and is the only human capable of reversing disease and defilement. Jesus touched a leprous man and he was clean, the disease gone. When a leprous woman touched Jesus her disease was also reversed. When Jesus touched the dead, they lived; when he touched the sick, they were healed.

Many people deep down think God is punishing them for a sin with disease. In John 9:1-3, we read: “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him”. Let God’s works be displayed in you during this difficult time.

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