Is God Good? Hard Questions about the Global Pandemic and Faith

Mar 24, 2020

“If God is good, why is this happening?” “If God knew, why didn’t He tell us?”

In the wake of the global pandemic, hard questions are rising to the surface of hearts across the world. On social media, those within our faith and those looking from the outside in are asking, “Where is God now?” “How did this happen?” “How is He good even when this is our reality?”

I have some thoughts I’d like to share in hopes of settling some of these big questions. I know some people reading won’t agree. I’m prepared for that. However, I fully believe there is someone who desperately needs these answers. I am praying you can use this post as a resource to share with your friends who are wrestling with uncertainty in times like these.

The first question I’d like to address is:

If God is good, why is this happening?

The answer is both simple and complex. God is good, and the world we live in wasn’t ever supposed be this way. To answer this quesiton, we have to go back to the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:7-17 details the creation of man.

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

 (God breathed His life into us. Wow!)

“The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

 Pay attention to this part…

“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.”

If you’re new to faith, let me offer a quick explanation. God isn’t warning that man would die a physical death on the day that he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but rather an immediate spiritual death where he would no longer have the same relationship with God that he had before. Additionally, if man were to eat from the forbidden tree, man would begin to die a physical death caused by this separation from God. Whereas before, man would simply live forever with God.

So, let’s talk about what we just read. God said that man could eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But in the description of the garden, God mentions another tree – the tree of life.

Go back and read verse again.

“The tree of life also in the midst of the garden…”

If you’re familiar with this story at all, you know that God goes on to create a woman, and then man and woman both eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

They did exactly what God told them NOT to do, and the moment they disobeyed God, they changed their relationship with Him. They had been perfect reflections of God’s glory up to this point, only doing what He taught them to do. But when they disobeyed Him, they stopped being like Him. This meant that God could no longer look at them and only see Himself. This changed everything.

After they ate from the forbidden fruit, God said to Himself in Genesis 3:22-23,

“Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.”

The first time I read this, I believed that God was punishing man and woman for their disobedience by removing them from His presence. I think of how I discipline my own children sometimes, “You didn’t do what I asked and now you have to go sit in time out.” However, just like we have a reason for putting our children in timeout, God’s true motives for requiring Adam and Eve to leave the garden are far more loving than I first. I understand now that God removed man and woman from the garden in order to protect them.

According to verse 22, access to the tree of life meant access to eternal life.

“he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…”

If man and woman ate from the tree of life after they spiritually separated themselves from God, they would continue to live forever separated from Him. They would never again have the relationship with God that He intended.

God loved us too much to allow us to live forever separated from Him.

Go back and read Genesis 3:22-23, again.

“Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.”

God loved us too much to allow us to live foreve separated from Him. He wanted the opportunity to redeem mankind through Jesus. It’s the kindness of God that led His children out of the Garden so He could lead them to repentance and reconciliation later on.

Here’s the thing. When sin entered the world, everything broke. Our relationship with God broke. Our bodies broke and now die. Our world broke. Plagues, wars, sickness and death entered our story. But God still desired to be with us in this broken world. He still wanted us back as it had once been.

So, He made it possible for a holy and perfect God to have a relationship with a sinful and broken people by sending His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice, redeeming all who would believe.

God made a way for us to have access to Him… access we wouldn’t have had without Jesus… even in the midst of darkness and pain and suffering. That is the full evidence of His goodness.

Access to God does not mean the lack of trial, or pain or even death. It simply means, our good God sent His Son, Jesus, so we wouldn’t have to face any of it alone.

He could have just left us all, but He didn’t. He could have said, “This isn’t worth it. They aren’t worth it,” and started over. But from the beginning of time, since He created the world, He has been working to bring us back to Him.

The evidence of God’s goodness isn’t revealed by the absence of brokenness and pain, but in the presence of God who enters our brokenness and pain and refuses to abandon us in it.

Why doesn’t God stop it all? Because until Jesus returns to this earth, which Scripture says will happen one day, we will all walk a very dark and broken world… a version of the world that God never intended for us to live in. Our mission as Christians? Is to tell the world they never have to spend a day of their lives alone.

The next question is:

 

If God knew this was coming, why didn’t He tell us or prepare us?

He did. He told us in John 16:33 that we would have troubles. But He doesn’t always tell us when big trials will come because He loves us. He spares us the weight of knowing more than our hearts can handle.

When Jesus was telling His disciples goodbye, He said to them in John 16,

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

The Truth is, Jesus was fully aware of everything they were about to witness. He knew that they would watch as He was wrongly accused, tortured, and unjustly crucified. He knew that they would watch Him hang on a gory cross with a crown of two-inch thorns pressed into his brow. He knew that He would be mocked, ridiculed, and eventually impaled and placed in a borrowed tomb.

Jesus knew that His followers needed to be prepared for what was coming, but He knew that they couldn’t handle the weight of the details. He also knew what was coming for each of them eventually. He knew that many of them would die horrible deaths as well.

But He knew that when they saw Him come back from the dead, when they witnessed not only His death, but His resurrection, they would be able to face anything.

There are some things that Jesus doesn’t tell us because He knows it is too much for us, but He doesn’t leave us without counsel during this time. He sends His Holy Spirit to guide us.

This is still one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit in our lives today. He reveals the Truth to us in ways that we can handle, strengthens us for the journey ahead, and equips us to face what is still coming.

I know that sometimes we want answers, and we want answers now. We want to know exactly how it all plays out. We want to know not just want to do next, but how to prepare for the years ahead. And sometimes, we wonder why if God is good and if He really loves us, He won’t tell us. But sometimes the proof of His love is in His withholding of details.

Sometimes, Jesus says to us, “It’s too much for you to bear, daughter. It’s too much for you to know right now, son. Because I do know what is coming, I’m asking you to trust me right here. I’m asking you to trust me with what I have told you already. I’m asking you to wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal what’s next in a way that you can process and move forward safely. Just because I’m not telling you, doesn’t mean that I don’t know. I know enough– and I know you enough to know that it would be too much.”

In these moments, the best response of our hearts isn’t to beg for details, but praise the Lord for His merciful silence that leads us steadily on.

There is hope in the midst of all of this, and that is in knowing we have a good God who never leaves us. He never stops paying attention to us. He never grows tired of hearing from us. He paid the ultimate price just to be with us. Ask Him to sit with you awhile. I promise that He would love nothing more.

My prayer for you, friends, is that you would find hope and comfort in some of these answers. Pray, read your Bible, ask God to speak directly to you. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out or contact your local church leadership. Share to pass this on, and then tell me your thoughts in the comments.

So much love,
Becky

 

Note: Some of this text comes from my book, Truth Unchanging: Hearing God Daily in the Midst of Motherhood. Find out more here.

20 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing these thoughts at this time of uncertainty. These are the things I believe as well. The Holy Ghost revelies many things To us if are willing to listen.

    Reply
  2. Thank you for this and your nightly prayers, they have helped me considerably. I plan on getting your book when it comes out. Thank you for your devotion.

    Reply
  3. Wow! Thank you for such an eloquently written explanation. We hear you God!

    Reply
  4. A great way to explain God’s love for us even when things are going so wrong. Thank you. I trust He is with me despite of the circumstances. God bless you.

    Reply
  5. Wow I needed this. I love the way you explained in detail so I could understand! Thank you sister and God Bless Praise Daddy❤

    Reply
  6. Becky! This is something I’ve struggled with so much. I find it hard to find comfort in phrases like “Relax, God is in control” or “Let go and let God” because we can say these things all day but bad things DO still happen! (I have a lot of anxiety by nature) I’ve struggled even sometimes believing that God is good because it feels so much like we’re just abandoned in a broken ugly world. Or how can He love us but leave us here with so much heartbreak. I’ve never thought about Him sending them out of the garden to prevent them from accessing the tree of Life and always thought of it as a punishment! This helped some!

    Reply
  7. Thank you so much for this…as I post about the goodness of God during this time I can’t help but feel super vulnerable about how I would respond to these questions from my unbelieving friends & family-so appreciate you breaking it down like this so I can refer back to it-much love! Keep the faith everyone!
    Lauren Hanna

    Reply
  8. Amen amen and amen. So perfectly explained and I so needed this.

    Reply
  9. Thank you for explaining this the way you did. New “children of God” can clearly understand. God Bless you!

    Reply
    • I read this before I went to bed, it really gave me comfort with knowledge and reassurance that Jesus loves us and always knows best ! I’m thankful the Holy Spirit guides us with the closeness to show us the way of righteousness, these are troubled times , but we are not alone , God has a plan , and his plans are always good!!! Thanks for the words of peace!!

      Reply
  10. Why would he place the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden for us to be tempted by in the first place?

    Reply
    • People have asked this question since the beginning of time. My favorite theologians answer this way… Because the act of obeying God allowed Adam and Eve to demonstrate their faith in Him and love for Him. Without the opportunity to disobey, there is not chance to obey. God didn’t place to tree to simply see if they’d be good or not. It was placed there as a constant reminder that every moment they didn’t eat from it, they were saying, “We choose Your way, God.” The same is still true in our lives. He wants us to choose Him.

      Reply
  11. Wow. With everything going on in the world and within my family, this was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you.

    Reply
  12. Thank you so much for sharing the Good News of what God has for all of us.. evil has run amuck, because so many have turned from our amazing God.. trust is so hard for so many, but trusting our Lord and savior is the most important decision, apart from accepting Christ, we can ever make.. I believe that this time is to help us understand that we need to turn back to God and his ways.. thank you again for sharing this piece, I pray that it will bring many back to God..

    Reply
  13. Thank you for reminding us! God Bless you😇🙏😍

    Reply
  14. Thank you. This makes so much sense in all that has happened in my life, especially the illness and death of my daughter.

    Reply
  15. Thank you for this. 💗

    Reply
  16. A friend sent me this. I am thankful for her doing so and getting the chance to read this article. I plan to share it as well. It is a beautiful description of exactly what God needs us to remember at this moment in time. I lost my husband 6 weeks ago to an 85-day battle with a very aggressive cancer. I still have not recovered and don’t think I ever will. That to me, is far worse than our current situation, but it adds to the difficulty and stress of coping with all that is going on in my life at the moment. I turned 70 this month and our daughter is terrified she is going to lose me as well. She has dysautonomia, is married with 2 teenage boys and is 100% disabled. I worry about her. Her heart and gastronomic systems are effected by her condition, so far. This condition is chronic and progressive and she has chronic migraines that can’t be ‘treated’, only medicated. So, your article here was a blessing. I plan to send it to her to remind her she needs to keep trusting in her faith. Bless you for you faith and dedication to it. I hope you & yours are well and safe and will remain so. Thank you, again.

    Reply
  17. Thank you Becky, it really helped me understand God better. Blessings.

    Reply

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I’m a best-selling author and full-time work at home momma writing and raising my family with my husband, Jared, just outside of Nashville. I connect women with real hope.

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hearing god daily in the midst of motherhood

Motherhood can be loud... and I don't just mean the sounds around us. Sometimes the mental noise of keeping track of what needs to be done, the fears that replay in our hearts, and our inner insecurities can be just as loud as our children. How do you hear God speaking above the noise? With these 75 devotions designed to be read in five minutes or less, you'll tune quiet your racing mind and tune your heart to Truth Unchanging. 

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truth unchanging

hearing god daily in the midst of motherhood

Motherhood can be loud… and I don’t just mean the sounds around us. Sometimes the mental noise of keeping track of what needs to be done, the fears that replay in our hearts, and our inner insecurities can be just as loud as our children. How do you hear God speaking above the noise? With these 75 devotions designed to be read in five minutes or less, you’ll tune quiet your racing mind and tune your heart to Truth Unchanging. 

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