In this time of anxiety, doubt, and pain brought on by Coronavirus (or any disease, pain, or suffering), it is sensible to ask, “Where is God in all of this?” It is equally reasonable to ask, “With all of this pain and suffering, is there even a reason to think God exists?”

In this post, I’ll attempt to provide a short answer to the second question. You can find my brief response to the first question here.

Note: While my first post was more pastoral in nature, this post is more philosophical.

It’s evident that the 2020 Coronavirus, and the corresponding disease of COVID-19, have brought plenty of suffering and pain to the world. Some people are dealing with significant illness while others have died. On top of those who are sick, there are massive social and economic hardships facing us.

It would be entirely reasonable for a person to look at this situation and say, “I have a hard time believing there is some sort of loving god out there given all of this badness. “After all, if there is a god out there watching, why don’t they do anything to stop this?

While there is much that could be said here, I’ll provide three thoughts.

1. If we eliminate a perfect, loving God, we also eliminate the possibility of a comparative good.

We can certainly tell when something bad is happening. The critical question, then, is “How do we know what is ‘bad?'” The best answer to this question is, “We know what is bad because it is the opposite of what is good!” This might seem simplistic, but it appears to me that this is the most obvious answer. It is good when a mother hugs their child, and it is bad if that same child drowns.

Now, if we eliminate God, we eliminate an external standard of Goodness. On the Christian view, God not only reveals what is good; God ultimately is what is Good. If we remove the existence of God, ‘good’ merely becomes what we prefer. If ‘good’ is only what we prefer, we run into the serious problem of relativism.

Explaining relativism in full would be an article of its own. For the sake of brevity, consider the following: Under relativism, ‘good’ is merely what one prefers. This means that if, in our example above, the mother preferred the drowning of her child to the hugging of her child, that would, relative to the mother, be a good thing.

It is because of this that a relativistic system doesn’t have things that are “always good.” If there aren’t things that are “always good,” there aren’t things that are “always bad or evil.” If there aren’t things that are “always bad or evil,” then “badness” merely becomes non-preferential. If this is the case, all of the damage wrought by the Coronavirus isn’t “bad,” it is simply not preferred.

2. How much bad is too much bad?

In other words, how much bad would we be willing to accept before it becomes “unacceptable” for God to allow it? Is it one million deaths? One thousand? One? A paper cut?

Obviously death is a horrible thing. However, the question is not, “Are bad things bad?” The question is, “How much bad are we ‘willing’ to let God allow?” The reason this distinction is important is that it becomes an arbitrary judgement on God. If judge god in this way it leaves us with two options:

  1. We accept belief in God and assume that our understanding of bad is greater than his
  2. We deny belief in God and are left with the problem found in point one above

Short of God creating a world in which nothing bad happens, we are forced to confront a world in which bad things do happen. This leaves us to ponder, “Why is there bad at all?”


3. Sin is significantly more damaging to our existence than we would like to admit.

On the Christian view, God doesn’t allow bad because He wants humanity to suffer or because He isn’t capable of stopping it. He allows bad because it is a necessary component of free will. Growing up I can remember often being told, “Choices have consequences.” For all of human history, we have been dealing with the consequences of our bad choices. Fallen, sinful humans will do bad things, which results in bad consequences, whether or not we immediately feel the effects.

If God were to simply prevent every bod consequence, humanity wouldn’t truly have free will. Instead, humanity would exist in a false reality where we made bad choices but were unaware that someone was actually preventing the fallout. It is akin to a parent willfully accepting the bad consequence for every bad action a child commits for the entirety of that child’s life. If this is the case, it seems like a possibility that the child will continue to make bad decisions because there are no consequences! Put another way: You only put your hand on a hot iron once. Why? Because you learned the consequence and now choose not to perform the same harmful action.

The natural response here may be, “Well, viruses aren’t the result of bad human choices!” Setting aside how human choice may play a role in “natural bad,” consider that in Genesis 3, God cursed the Earth.

And he said to the man, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’:

The ground is cursed because of you.

You will eat from it by means of painful labor

all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

and you will eat the plants of the field.

You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow

until you return to the ground,

since you were taken from it.

For you are dust,

and you will return to dust.”

The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living. The Lord God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.

The Lord God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life. (CSB)

Natural bad, such as tornadoes or disease, still occur because of sin. As people who make bad choices, we now live in a world that is damaged as a punishment and consequence for continually making bad choices.

Conclusion: The Hope of Christ

In the Christian story, however, we are not left in our brokenness. God constantly intervenes to rescue humanity from its brokenness, ultimately paying the penalty on our behalf. John 3:16 and 17 demonstrate this wonderfully:

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (CSB)

Additional Content

God and the Coronavirus Pt. 1

For a more in-depth read, please check out

Why Does God Allow Evil by Clay Jones

(I am not affiliated with Dr. Jones and do not receive a commission if you purchase his book)

Tyler Bauer holds an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and is currently pursuing MAs in Philosophy and Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tyler is a teacher and blogs regularly at The Navigation Project.