You cannot look at the news or social media without seeing updates about COVID-19. In the midst of this great crisis, the Christians have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. They have the opportunity to encourage those around them with the hope that we have in Christ.

Many, though, have taken to social media with distorted ideas about the relationship between God and COVID-19. We like easy answers, but have fallen victim to oversimplifying issues that are in no way simple.

COVID-19 is NOT a plague sent by God.

We’ve read about plagues in the Bible. The stories many of us learned as Children have taught us that at certain times in history, God used plagues to correct things that were wrong. In Exodus, he sent plagues in order to convince Pharaoh to set God’s enslaved people free. Illness, famine, and natural disasters are the backdrop of many stories in the Bible. But that does not mean that COVID-19 is a plague sent by God.

So far, thousands within the United States have fallen ill from this virus. Despite America’s faults, COVID-19 is not a plague sent by God to punish the nation. We are not being punished for removing prayer from schools or for idolizing our wealth. This virus should not be wielded by the Church as an ideological weapon to use against those who disagree with our way of life. COVID-19 is not God’s way of beating his creation into submitting to him alone.

COVID-19 is NOT God’s way of grabbing our attention.

God did not send COVID-19 to grab our attention. Several posts on social media have claimed that COVID-19 is God’s way of shaking the world out of its idolatry. By stripping away those things we’ve worshipped before God, COVID-19 is leaving us with no choice but to serve God.

Again, this is ridiculous. God does do things to grab our attention. However, God has not sent COVID-19 to punish people for their sins. To be clear: if you become ill because of COVID-19, you are not ill because you have failed God. You are ill because a dangerous virus has become a pandemic.

God may grab your attention during this time. However, that does not mean that this virus is a plague sent by him. We have already seen some amazing pockets of revival in response to this illness, but that does not mean the virus was caused by God.

COVID-19 IS a tragedy, and we owe it to those we love to treat it as such.

A friend’s coworker died from COVID-19. She was in her thirties. In the coming days, we will likely learn of the illness and death of those we are connected with. How we as the Church respond to this crisis matters.

COVID-19 is not the Church’s opportunity to scare people into becoming Christians. These conversions are built on shaky ground. They are based on misinformation about who God is and how he relates to suffering.

One post I read said, “Too bad people aren’t as afraid of hell as they are of COVID-19.” This is not the message we want to be sending to a world that desperately needs the encouragement and hope that only God can give. Yes, we want people to turn to God. But it is God’s goodness and love that draw people to him. We should not be shouting messages of fear to scare people into making decisions of faith.

COVID-19 is not a plague sent by God to punish us. It is not a weapon for us to use against our enemies, threatening them into the Kingdom of God. COVID-19 is a virus and a tragedy, something that has happened because we live in a broken and polluted world. Let us not forget that as we minister to the world around us.