“If God existed, how could bad things happen? I prayed and told God that I would believe He exists only if He would take away all the bad things in the world by the next morning. When I awoke the next day, the bad was still there, so I decided there was no God.”
Would you believe me if I told you the words above are from the mouth of a former student with EvaSUE? I met Tamagne(not his real name) at a neighborhood coffee shop and found myself in a theological dialogue with him. I was amazed to be having a conversation with an Ethiopian guy who called himself an atheist, despite being from one of the most religious countries in the world! Not to mention, I found it ironic that his beliefs were in direct contradiction to the meaning of his name. A few weeks later I took Tamagne out for lunch and heard his story. He told me he was very involved in EvaSUE and even spent time doing evangelism. He was passionate and an example of Christian faithfulness. After university, however, he began to question his faith and doubt God’s existence. That led him to become an agnostic, I discovered, and not a true atheist. A small part of him still held to the possibility of God being real. I felt compassion for Tamagne and committed myself to being a part of his life. Hopefully, he’ll come back to the LORD with a renewed faithfulness.
As the world faces the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps you too have questioned the goodness or even the existence of God. “How could God be good if He has allowed nearly 155,000 people to die [as of today] of a virus? Why did God not at least heal Christians who were hospitalized with COVID-19? After all, their families and friends and congregations prayed fervently for them. Or, why am I struggling financially because of the impact COVID-19 is having on the economy?” These are all great questions, and ones we should bring directly to our heavenly Father. In fact, this is exactly what the psalmist David did time and time again. Consider Psalm 22: 1-2, for example. Job also brought his frustration and anger to God. Read Job 10. We need not be afraid to express the full range of our emotions to God. He can handle it. And, what’s more, we draw closer to Him as we push past religiosity and tell him our true feelings.
Perhaps what makes this pandemic season so difficult for us is that we have been slowly seduced by a form of prosperity gospel that says, “If we can just have enough faith and do the right things, God will spare us from all suffering.” We then face a crisis of belief whenever something bad happens, especially when it happens to us or someone we love. When tragedies like this happen, our confidence in our loving God can begin to decrease, and we become vulnerable to the “roaring lion” who seeks to devour us. So what can we do?
As doubts flood your minds in this season or the next, commit to do four things:
1) Express your feelings openly and honestly with God.
2) Read and meditate on the Scriptures. The Psalms can be quite helpful, but feel free to look elsewhere.
3) Rehearse the times you have undoubtedly seen or experienced God’s goodness.
4) While we should isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we should not allow ourselves to be spiritually isolated during these times of testing. Share your thoughts with fellow believers, and ask them to pray for you. Don’t forget the EvaSUE leadership team is available to help you process your feelings.
I leave you with these thoughts. God exists, and He is good. He was good before COVID-19. He will not cease being good when the next crisis happens. His nature and His ways are unchanging…and so is His love for you.
Author: Richard Coleman, Staff in EvaSUE