You probably realize that God certainly could have prevented COVID-19 if He had chosen to do so. After all, God has the power to do anything He wants to do, right? So then why didn't God prevent COVID-19, especially given all the serious consequences this pandemic has produced in our world today?
In order to answer this provocative question, the first thing we must realize is that God isn't sitting up in heaven saying, "Well why didn't I think of that?" In other words, COVID-19 didn't slip past God undetected.
The truth is that God saw COVID-19 coming long before it landed on our doorstep. And yet the Lord nevertheless allowed this virus to be unleashed first in China, and then globally. But why? (My recent video message addresses this question.)
In our quest to understand why God didn't prevent COVID-19, we need to look at the big picture. You see, the answer to this question leads us to look at much more than just COVID-19, but also many other instances of disease, destruction and death. This certainly isn't the first time people have wondered why God didn't prevent something painful from happening.
While COVID-19 has already taken the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, the bigger picture includes these deaths as well:
Estimated U.S. Death Toll
1919 flu pandemic: 675,000
Civil War: 620,000
World War II: 405,399
World War I: 116,516
1957-1958 flu pandemic: 116,000
1968 flu pandemic: 100,000
Vietnam War: 58,220
Korean War: 36,574
So you see, the question of God preventing COVID-19 involves much more than just the current pandemic. Disease and death have plagued our world ever since Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit.
"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." (Genesis 3:6,7)
This fateful decision opened a Pandora's box that has remained open to this day. "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12)
God of course has free will, and "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27) Adam and Eve chose to exercise their free will when they ate the forbidden fruit. And it is impossible to wrap our mind around COVID-19, or any other pandemic, without first understanding free will.
We do not know exactly when God created the angels, as I address in the article, "How Old are the Angels?" God chose to give the angels free will, and it was Lucifer who chose to "go rogue" and rebel against God in heaven. He was tired of seeing God get all the credit and all the glory, and the Bible informs us that Lucifer's "heart become proud on account of his beauty." (Ezekiel 28:17)
The existence of evil originated in the heart of an angel that God created to be holy. Lucifer was created without sin, but he exercised his free will in the wrong direction. And the rest is history.
When asking if God could have prevented COVID-19, we are ultimately asking whether or not God could have prevented sin and death. And the answer is, "Yes."
How so? Well, God could have created angels and man to be robots who are programmed with automated responses. God could have created angels and man that lack the ability to disobey the Lord's commands. Since God can do anything He chooses to do, He certainly could have made robots.
Instead, God decided He wanted to have fellowship with man, and so He created man with free will. This enables us to choose to love our Creator, rather than simply being programmed to automatically do the right thing in every situation.
Think about it from a parent's perspective. How many parents would rather have a baby robot than a baby human? Baby humans are born with free will, whereas robots do not have a soul or the capacity to choose to love God with all of their heart, soul and mind.
It has been over 3,000 years since Joshua spoke these famous words to God's people: "Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14,15)
The people were being called upon to make a choice with their free will. The Israelites were not robots. They were not programmed to obey God in every situation, but they were instructed to do so in order to please the Lord.
What about today? Well, "God commands all people everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30) And since human beings are not robots, many people choose to reject God's command and the Lord's gracious offer of forgiveness.
God won't force you to be forgiven of your sins and live with all believers in Paradise forever. If you are determined to go your own way, you are able to do so. If you would rather pay for your own sins one day than to have your sins washed away by the blood of Jesus, it is your choice. But if you would like to be forgiven and live with God forever, now is the time to "repent and believe the good news." (Mark 1:15)
God didn't prevent COVID-19 or a whole host of other illnesses and deadly situations, but He did choose to send His only Son to enter our world of death in order to die for our sins on the cross. "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18)
God made His decision when He chose to make angels and man with free will, and then to send His only Son to redeem us after we had gone astray. Lucifer made his decision to rebel and get kicked out of heaven, and Adam and Eve utilized their free will to eat the forbidden fruit.
What will you decide regarding your sin and God's solution? Only the Savior can cleanse your soul and grant you the gift of everlasting life in Paradise.
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.