April 2, 2020
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If God, Why the Coronavirus? | Vince Vitale | Q&A | RZIM


– This why question, often is asked, by on-chair philosophers, and some of us may even have
asked a question that way at times in our life, but no one’s asking the question in that way right now, that why is being asked with real emotion, and for many people,
even with desperation. I always try to remember
that the first conversation I ever had about suffering, after I had become a
Christian in my college years, it was with my aunt Regina, and she spoke with me about
some serious suffering in her life and in the life of
her son, my cousin, Charles, and after I listened to
her speak about this, at the time, I was more
interested in the question, the philosophical question,
and the questioner, and I quickly began spouting some of my philosophical explanations for why God might allow
Charles to have suffered and my aunt Regina listened
very graciously to me and then at the end, she said, but Vince, that doesn’t speak to me as a mother, and I’ve always tried
to remember that line when trying to respond
to this type of question. Jesus was much better than I was at remembering that sentiment when his good friend Lazarus was ill, Jesus waited a couple of days before he went to see him, and Lazarus wound up dying
before Jesus got there, and reading between the
lines and the passage, Mary and Martha were not too impressed, Lazarus’ sisters and they said, Jesus, why didn’t you come sooner, if you had been here, our
brother would still be alive, what do you have to say for yourself, and as a Christian, I believe at that time, Jesus could’ve given an
explanation, but he didn’t. The text says that Jesus wept. That’s the shortest verse in the Bible, and it’s very important
to me as a Christian, that first and foremost, God weeps at the suffering of this world, and that has to be our
first response as well. I’ll say a couple of other things, but please hear at the out set to say this is not in any way meant
to be an exhaustive answer to this question. I do think it’s interesting, when we talk about something
like the Coronavirus. In philosophy, it would be
referred to as “natural evil”. And that in itself is an
interesting terminology, you might think it’s an oxymoron, you might think if it’s genuinely natural, if it’s just the way it’s supposed to be, if it’s just the way that
physics is supposed to operate, is it actually evil? Can you get a moral category like evil out of something which is
just physical and natural? And if it’s evil, then
is it really natural? If it’s genuinely evil, wouldn’t that make it
unnatural, and not natural, and so it’s an interesting terminology, I find myself wondering if
actually that classification, if it points towards God,
rather than away from God. If it points towards a moral law giver who can be the ground of a moral standard of more reality that can get us a category like moral evil. And also, towards a narrative that makes some sense of
the fact that this seems very unnatural, this does
not seem like it’s the way things are supposed to be. Another perspective that
I’d want to open up here, is that natural evils, they’re not intrinsically
evil in of themselves. If you have a tornado,
and you are watching it from a safe distance, it can be majestic to behold, it can beautiful to behold. If you put a virus under a microscope, it could be beautiful to behold, and there’s even a category of viruses, friendly viruses, we
need them in our body. The vast majority of viruses
are not having a bad result or having a good result, and in fact, if we didn’t have viruses in the world, bacteria would replicate so quickly that it would cover the entire earth and nothing could inhabit
the earth, including us. It raises the question: Is the problem the
fundamental, natural features of our universe, or is the problem the way that we are
functioning in our environment? Could it be the case, that
we’re not functioning, our bodies, the way we’re supposed to in the environment that we’re in. When a feral child is
taken out of all community, out of all relationship, that that child was intended for, the child
does not function properly in its environment. Could it be the case that we, as humanity, as a whole, are living separated
from outside the context of the relationship that
we were most destined for, and we’re not operating
properly in our environment. There’s so much more to
say about this topic, I’ll open up one more angle,
just for your consideration. Often times when we think of suffering, we think about it like this: We picture ourselves in this world, with all of its suffering. We then picture ourselves
in a very different world, with no suffering, or far less suffering, and then we wonder to ourselves, well surely, God should have
made me in the other world. Reasonable thought, but potentially problematic, because we never asked the question: Would it still be you, and me, and the people that we love in that very different world that we think we wish God had made. In a moment of frustration with my father, this would never actually happen, dad, but in a moment of
frustration with my father, I might wish that my mom
had married someone else. Might’ve been taller, like Abdu, might’ve been better looking, like Abdu, I would’ve been better off, I could be thinking this way, but then I should stop and realize that’s not the right way to think, if my mom had wound up with
someone other than my dad, it wouldn’t have been
me who came to exist, it would’ve been a totally different child who came to exist. Well now imagine changing not just that little piece of history, but imagine changing the way the entire natural world operates. Imagine if we were never
susceptible to disease, or imagine if plate
tectonics didn’t behave the way they did if the laws of physics had undergone a redesign, what would be the result? And I think one of the results is that none of us ever would’ve lived, and as a Christian, I don’t think God likes that result because I think one of the things he values about this world, even though I think he hates
the suffering within it, is that it is a world that
allowed for you to come to exist, and allowed for me to come to exist, and allowed for every person
we see walking down the street to come to exist, I believe that God intended you before the foundation of the world, that He knit you together
in your mother’s womb, that He knew you before you were born, He desired you, and this was a world that allowed for you to come to exist and to be invited into
a relationship with Him. Are we going to have all the
answers to this question? No, we’re not, but I don’t
think we should expect to. I was thinking this morning about how my one-year old son, Rafael, and he generally does not understand why sometimes I allow him to suffer, and I was thinking
specifically of one instance where they had to do
some tests on his heart, and I was there, holding him down, while he shrieked in horror with all these wires
coming out from his chest as they did these tests. He couldn’t understand. He couldn’t understand
that I was loving him through that moment, and all I could do as a father, was I just kept saying I’m
here, I’m here, I’m here, I just kept saying that repetitively. Ultimately, the reason that I trust God through something like the Coronavirus is not because of philosophy, but because I believe the Christian God came and he suffered with us. I believe that in the person of Jesus, that is God’s way of saying I’m here, I’m here, I’m here, and as the words of Jesus
himself, “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice
and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” That’s the hope that we have, the hope of a beautiful intimacy that can be everlasting and as a hope I believe we need to
hold onto in this time.

Jean Kelley

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