Why Would God Allow COVID-19?



(The FreeThinking Theist)


March 23, 2020

Suppose you awoke tomorrow and the coronavirus pandemic had come to an end and all suffering had ceased. Not only are you no longer experiencing any suffering of any kind, but neither is anyone else. All suffering resulting from moral or natural evil — including COVID-19 – was nothing but a memory.

Is there any reason to think that it would stay that way? To answer this question, take a short quiz:

Question #1:

Would you take this “suffering-free world” for granted? Would you say, “So what? No big deal,” or would you exclaim “this is the way things ought to be!”?

a) Yes, I would savor this suffering-free state of affairs. 

b) No, I would take this suffering-free state of affairs for granted. 

Next, suppose you discovered that this new suffering-free state of affairs depends on you! It is up to YOU (and everyone else) to keep suffering out of this world.

Question #2:

Would you do everything within YOUR power to ensure that no one ever experienced suffering again?

a) Yes, I would do everything in my power to ensure that no one ever suffers again. 

b) No, I would not try to keep this world free from suffering. 

Now suppose all you had to do to ensure this world would remain uninfected from any affliction ever again (and the coronavirus would never again rear its ugly head) was merely to follow a few simple rules. If you followed these rules daily, then you would ensure the eternal flourishing of humanity.

Question #3:

Would you do your best? Would you make a commitment to live according to these few simple rules “to infinity and beyond”?

a) Yes, I would do my best to follow these rules to ensure that no one ever suffers again. 

b) No, I will not commit to live according to any rules.

Next, suppose you discovered the “rules” you needed to follow were those known as “The Law of Christ” (John 14:15) in the New Testament.

Question #4:

Would you freely choose to commit to following the commands of Jesus, or would you say, “No thanks! I’d rather live according to my own rules — even if the coronavirus spreads across the planet!”?

a) Yes, I would gladly commit to following the commands of Christ into the infinite future (eternity).

b) No, I would never live according to those stupid commands!

If you answered in the affirmative to all of the above, then congratulations — you have learned from suffering, and have chosen wisely. As the Apostle Paul makes clear in 2 Corinthians 4:17, these “light momentary afflictions” have prepared you for an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison!” You have learned how things ought to be and also learned how stupid it is not to strive to follow the “rules” given to us from God. Unlike Adam, Eve, Satan, and a third of all the angels — who each took a suffering-free state of affairs for granted — you are now ready for Heaven!

If you answered in the negative to any of the above, you are “still learning” and either need to experience or become aware of more suffering (that’s the best-case scenario).[1] Or perhaps you have made a commitment NOT to learn from suffering. That’s cool. God lets you have it your way for eternity. You simply won’t be allowed to hang out with those of us who have learned how stupid it is not to follow the Law of Christ and to love God first and all people as ourselves (Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39)!

This thought experiment demonstrates that God allowing suffering — including any suffering resulting from the coronavirus — is justified (and perfectly loving) because we can learn from all kinds of suffering. That is to say, when we keep eternity in mind, these “light momentary afflictions,” as Paul describes them, make perfect sense.

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Tim Stratton


[1] I recently heard one of the “Spring Breakers” in Miami — during the COVID-19 pandemic — exclaim: “Nothing is going to keep me from my right to party!” This is an example of a guy who is still learning (or so it seems to me)!

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About the Author



(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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