“I almost died several days ago from covid. I could have died so many times before. But each time, God spared my life. God is so, so good!”
This, in a nutshell, was a Facebook post I’ve just read. My left brain immediately kicked in. “So when someone died of covid, God is so, so… bad?”
It reminds me of 9/11, when some people escaped the collapse of the Twin Towers and attributed it to God’s mercy. But what about the 2,996 who were crushed in the rubble?
Yes, I presume the reader believes in the existence of a personal, omnipotent God. But even if you are a skeptic, you may ask,
“Assuming there’s a God, why is He arbitrary? For some people He gives the proverbial nine lives, whereas for others, He gives the lifespan of a gnat. Does He play favorites or something?”
My first response may be shocking, but here goes: God is not obligated to save anyone.
Imagine you created a business and hired employees. Yes, you are obligated to give your people the mandated salaries and benefits. That includes the 13th month pay. Assuming the company is doing well, are you obligated to give everyone a 14th month bonus? No. It’s your company, it’s your money, you call the shots.
You may have an employee who, because of exceptional performance, really deserves that extra money, but strictly speaking, you don’t have to give it. You may be accused of being a Scrooge, but, in the absence of a legal contract, no one can successfully sue you for it. The fancy term is management prerogative.
Now, translate that to a higher plane. God created the universe and populated the earth with people. Life is the currency of that universe. Is God obligated to give long life to everyone, whether through fantastic health or rescue from calamities? No, it’s God’s universe, God’s “money”, God calls the shots.
There may be someone who leads an exceptionally moral life and deserves to live long and prosper. But God is still not obligated to reward him thusly. Proof? How many good people die young, even tragically?
Conversely (and yes, galling) how many evil folks live to a ripe, old, scandalous, unrepentant age? You may accuse God of being unfair, but on what basis? The fancy term is divine prerogative.
If we go with the premise that God is not obligated to save us from calamities, natural or otherwise, the wonder is that He does, like how that covid survivor declared in her FB.
When your body cannot heal on its own, when you can’t escape from a raging typhoon, when you can hardly shield your skull from crashing rubble – and you still came out alive – there is a sense that you just won the cosmic lottery. This time, the fancy term is grace. By definition, you don’t deserve the reprieve (He calls the shots, remember?), but He gave it anyway.
It is no accident that grace and gratitude are related. Psychologically, one becomes grateful when he ponders on the alternative. One cannot “become alive” on his own. Does the phrase “I didn’t ask to be born?” make sense? Neither can one hold on to his last breath and become immortal.
The experience that you should be dead, but you are not, through no effort of your own, leads to gratitude to a Higher Power. Some call it Fate, others, luck. But consider the Christian perspective: God exists, God knows, God cares, and God rescues.
But what about the people He seemingly allowed to die, like, say, people trapped in a burning building? To be honest, I do not have the answer for that one. What I can say, though, is that I cannot speak for those who perished. I can only speak for my own life. So did that covid survivor.
We each have our own share of crises, but we can jointly declare about God in personal terms: He is not obligated to heed our prayers, provide for our every need, comfort us in our sorrows, surround us with loving people, heal us from covid. But He does.
He is not even obligated to save us from our sins… But He does. Proof? Gaze at the Cross and marvel. Our response is to be stunned by such divine grace and put our faith in the One Who hung there and rose from the dead: Jesus Christ.
And that is how we can say, even when there seems to be contrary evidence, “God is so, so good!”