Dueteronomy 30:15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
When we are faced with difficult circumstances, experiences that seem beyond our control, it is most natural to ask "why?" It seems that when we look at the Bible for answers, we often find verses like the one above that doesn't seem to help at all. There are those that are quick to point out the prophecies against a culture of self-indulgence and greed that fuels the notion that God is punishing us with plagues and destruction. The COVID-19 virus sounds like a plague and demonstrations turned to riots exhibit destruction.
In Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount," found in Matthew 5, we read these words: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous." The idea that God treats all the children on earth without preference challenges the idea that those who experience disaster are being punished for their wrongdoings. What does seem likely is that from every experience God has lessons to teach us.
One reason for our cloudy thinking may be a theology that has been popular in some circles for a number of years. Prosperity theology is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith
, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.
Ask the family who has lost their livelihood due to a closed business or someone whose family has experienced death due to the virus in spite of their prayers, their faith, their dedication to their church and you'll have a tough time convincing them of that idea. Why? We know the scientific explanations and the sociological implications. Let's ask God to help us learn the lessons for us and give ourselves to God's challenge to love our neighbors and seek out the least, the lonely, the lost. We are God's hands and feet. Time to start walking.
God of my ancestors, teach me the way to walk so that my heirs will inherit my faith, the most valuable of all my possessions. For Jesus' sake. Amen.