Is God Using the Virus to Get Our Attention?
Right now, as I am beginning to compose this blog, my 7-month-old, Baker, is trying to get my attention. He's learning that the louder he squeals and hollers, the faster one of us (either Amy, Beckham, or me) will come running to his aid. Some of the time, he doesn't even need anything. He just wants to see if he can get one of us to look in his direction. He'll grunt like a little piggy and I'll look up from whatever I'm doing to catch him staring at me with his gummy smile, as if to say, "Gotcha!" His antics started me thinking today about the way God speaks to us.
How does God get our attention?
Is it through the whisper of a still small voice, like the one Elijah heard? Does he speak through the fury of a whirlwind, like the one Job experienced? Does God speak in visions or dreams? Based on scripture, it seems that God can speak to us, and does speak to us, through a variety of ways. It's not wise to pick one of these cases from the Bible and make it into a paradigm for the way God always speaks to us. When we do that, we've made something descriptive into something prescriptive.
If that's true, however, it has made me consider other methods of communication; ones that are much less pleasant to think about; specifically, the Coronavirus and other illnesses or troubles.
Can God use the virus to get our attention?
I recognize that this is a very different question from my title. "Can God," and "Is God," are two very different things. So, let's begin with the easier of the two. Can God use the virus to get our attention? The author of Hebrews suggests this possibility. Hebrews 12:7-13 says,
"7 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed."
According to the author, it seems that the answer is a resounding, "Yes!" God can use the trials we face as a way of getting our attention. He can use trials as a form of discipline in order to shape us up. Notice that the goal, the author says in verse ten, is so "that we may share in his holiness." God's desire is for us to resemble Christ, in all that we say and do. That's the goal, and it is a beautiful aspiration, because there was no one in the world like Jesus. To be Christlike is a goal worth pursuing. His suggestion is, therefore, to pick up your chin! If you have been slacking in your relationship with God, use this uncertain and scary pandemic as opportunity to address some of those areas.
However, the question still remains, "Is God using the virus to get our attention?"
Now that I'm not so sure of. It has never been my theological position that God causes and renders certain all events in history since the beginning of time. If that were true, it would mean that God not only foreknew that the Coronavirus was going to strike, but that he made certain it would. And while it is true that God can use something like the virus (or other trials) to get our attention, it is something all together different and cruel to suggest that he sent the virus (or other trials) to get our attention.
That sort of God would be a moral monster and, therefore, not deserving of our trust. And this is what it all boils down to - trust and faith. Do you trust God to get us through this trial or not? Giving your trust to God all depends on how you see him. If you view him as this moral monster who sends viruses to the earth, killing thousands, simply to get a little attention, then it's highly unlikely that you will trust this God, allow him to come into your life, and change you into a more Christlike person. Which again, is the goal. The goal is Christlikeness, and getting there means change, and change requires trust.
How we view and speak of God, especially right now in a crisis of this proportion, is essential to our faith, because it requires that we place all of our faith and trust in him to get us through this. Right now is a good time to consider that all important question:
Do I trust God with every aspect of my life or not?