Deus enviou o COVID - Did God send COVID19? (Portuguese)
Pastor Lucas participated live on "Quarentena", a late night devotion of the official Radio of the Lutheran Church of Brazil, IELB, "Radio CPT", in Portuguese. But you can check out an English version of it below:
"Did God send Covid-19?
During a pandemic like the one that we are experiencing right now we see many opportunities showing up; but there are also some dangers and temptations that come along. One of them might be trying to make the Word of God speak to it something it doesn't say, or at least not the way one thinks it speaks. In this short text I'd like to tackle a couple of them.
_Biblical texts that deal with plagues and punishment from God. For example, 2 Chronicles 7 and Exodus 12 are quoted in connection with the covid-19 plague. Problem here is that in those texts, and many others, it is clearly stated that God himself sent the given punishment or plague, like the death of the firstborn in Exodus. In order to pair any of those biblical texts with the current pandemic, the first thing one needs to do is to prove that God Himself has sent the covid-19 upon us. But I don't think we can make that statement. After that, there are some exegetical and doctrinal questions that should be addressed too.
On another angle to that, a similar reasoning is presented in the idea that God “took away our idols from sports, movies, politicians… he made us stay at home and rethink life…etc.” Should we then also state that God intended to take Church going, Holy Communion and the communion of the brethren from us too?
We don't have biblical base to state clearly that God Himself has decided to send the covid-19 to Earth in the year of 2020, and we should stick to that. Disasters, catastrophes, calamities, accidents, even when sent by God as stated in the Bible, come ultimately because of sin. God uses all things that happen according to his purpose? There’s no shadow of doubt on that. And there are surely many things we can learn from isolation, quarantine and having lots of extra time we thought we didn't have before. But better Biblical texts for this time could be, for example, Exodus 20, "the ten commandments"; John 14, "in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world"; Colossians 2, "stick to the Word"; Psalm 46, "Be still and know that I am God".
_The second topic is about texts portraying life before covid-19 – hustle and bustle, little time for family and friends, greed, consumerism, selfishness, etc… - which go on to preach a better world and a better Humanity after it. They wish, almost demand, that people would go back to daily life differently; that the world would be transformed, and people would enjoy more family, kids, would preserve the planet, put their smartphones away for longer, and stay away from their credit cards, among other wishes.
These are supposed to be inspiring but they are not so much. After the preaching of the Law - the world as it used to be – comes more preaching of the Law - how everybody should behave better after the crisis is gone. More legal demands, which means more guilt.
Breaking news: when life goes back to normal, we will all continue to be what you always were: human beings. Sinful, lustful, selfish, indifferent… You can list all the Ten Commandments here. Transformation doesn't come from the Law, which at its best can hinder some attitudes, or give some orientation to others. Transformation is made inside with the Gospel that Forgives sin, points to Jesus and His Word and Will for our lives.
We are always trying to make sense of things, and it’s not different now. While that is useful, it usually can be done only in hindsight. Trying to guess what God is up to right now or tomorrow without sound biblical basis will only bring us either more anxiousness and despair, or more legalism and hypocrisy. We need to be honest, it is very unlikely that we are all going back to normal life doing all the right things we didn't do before.
Christ has transformed us in his Word to send us out in the world to do our best in doing good, that’s for sure; but in His Word we are also reminded that we remain sinners in daily need of his forgiveness and love. And they are always there, unlimited, abundant and permanently available. It prevents us to be too pessimistic about the future, or too optimistic about humanity, leading us to the real life with the real God, facing all the problems that come from sin and enjoying all the blessings that come from the Son.
Romans chapter 8: “28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." "38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”