By Stuart Powell
How is God’s goodness displayed in COVID-19? What benefit does God intend from viruses? In “The Good that Viruses Do” from the Annual Review of Virology for 2017, two scientists [Mario Mietzsch and Mavis Agbandje-McKenna] introduced their article with this observation:
If a survey were to ask nonvirologists for their opinions about viruses, the word “good” would be unlikely to arise. Instead, words such as “disease,” “infection,” “suffering,” or “life-threatening” would likely dominate, as people primarily think of viruses such as HIV, Ebola virus, Zika virus, influenza virus, or whatever new outbreak is in the news.
Some people would think it foolish to propose that anything good comes from a virus, but the virologists explained that the world needs a redefined perspective on viruses. Research demonstrates that not every virus causes disease. The article explained that viruses are indispensable for keeping people healthy. Their insight calls for a new viewpoint on this small part of God’s creation.
As believers, we shouldn’t be surprised that God employs even viruses for our benefit. Doesn’t God amplify the sliver of good in those things we despise? History is filled with stories of Christians “foolishly” walking toward those suffering and dying to bring hope, comfort, and love. Paul explained to the Christians in Corinth that God consistently works in ways counter to the world’s understanding of good. He wrote,
But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence (1 Corinthians 1:27-29, New English Translation).
There is no better example of God’s transformative work than what he did with the Roman cross. For centuries the Romans used crucifixion to terrify millions into submission. Before the church arose, people would have considered it foolish to propose that anything good comes from crucifixion. However, we know that God redefined the perspective of the cross. He transformed it into the cornerstone of our faith.
Jesus wanted us never to forget the price he willingly paid to heal us of the sickness of sin. So he asked his followers to remember his death on the cross by eating bread and drinking from the cup. These “foolish” symbols are divinely appointed to draw us back to the cross where Jesus died. As you eat and drink, consider the redefined perspectives God has shown in your life. Dwell on God’s redeeming work being completed in you. Let our memory of Jesus’ selfless examples move us toward serving those in need.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.