Good Friday reflection: The damning of COVID-19

There’s something we should all be doing in regards to COVID-19. It’s for anyone looking for religious “reasons” for the pandemic: we need to pray about how God is damning this virus to hell.

Well, that’s pretty strong. First, let me say I don’t mean that we should all feebly petition God to “just make it go away” or to “claim divine victory over it” as if we were dimwitted spiritual cheerleaders. What I mean is that I can hardly stand to hear those who say God is punishing us through this virus, or creating good works out of crisis, or even awakening us back to him. This virus is hardly God’s bullhorn. God’s still, small voice is surely enough for that. And our situation would be piteous if we only roused to spirituality during crisis. In fact, that kind of lax attitude could very well damn us to hell.

And neither is God using it to “show us something”; nor is he “speaking to us” something specific through it. The coronavirus made a jump from an animal to a human somewhere in Wuhan, China, and then someone got sick. That’s it—a biological phenomenon. It naturally reveals our lowly and defenseless condition as humans, but God is not killing someone’s grandmother or uncle or immunocompromised brother to eventually make your life or the world better, or to push us to find a truth that could be better gained just by being honest about how small we are.

That is why COVID-19 should be seen only as damnable—and nothing else. It is not the good by which we were created. It does nothing by itself to lift the human heart to God. It will make not make a cameo in heaven’s book of life. And we should all see its bland void of the true Good as the oblivion and abyss that it is—the virus is simply bits of genetic information that create mindless chaos when it claims a new victim.

Yes, Christ suffered a Good Friday death which led to our Redemption, but the arc of Christ’s life and Resurrection show us his sacrifice was not a random tragedy. That was God doing as God does, as it were. No coronavirus is sacrificing itself for our redemption.

So after COVID-19’s evil is rendered obsolete, we’ll still be here. Though historians will note it in their books, none of our future aspirations a year from now, when COVID-19 is rendered obsolete by vaccines or treatments, will include the virus in any capacity. COVID-19 is completely empty in relation to our present or final Good. Yes, we can make good on the evil before us—we can reflect and pray about infirmity teaches us—but we should always be doing that, more so when crisis is not distracting us. COVID-19 might be a wakeup call for some as a normal reaction, but it is not God’s instrument of conversion. Grace is. And grace is overwhelming compared to evil.

We were made small and finite, but the coronavirus can never blot out our infinite dignity. We were made limited in power, but the coronavirus, though surging, will be shown to be far more limited. We were made for the Good alone, not for believing there’s some reason we’re being vexed by a pandemic. That’s because we are the ones who were dreamed up in God’s image; the coronavirus was a mutation made in nothing’s image. And since its sole operation is to afflict us, God has destined that all its resulting pain and sorrow to be devoured within the maw of hell.

And there it will go, because Christ detests death in every way. There it will go no matter what history records about it. And we will show that our meekness and vulnerability to illness is not exclusively a liability, but the truth about who we are: it is that very meekness and vulnerability that makes us lovable. This truth is the reason for all this social distancing and meticulous handwashing and safer-at-home orders. We find each other terrifically lovable. And that’s the reason for all of this—the only reason God has in mind. He doesn’t need a virus to show us that truth, and He only wishes that we’d arrive at that truth no matter our present affliction. COVID-19 was uninivited, but God’s everlasting invitation to know our lovability persists always. Not everything happens for a reason, and this menacing virus is unreasonable in every way. The only reason we are here is to be loved, and that is what we are doing. To hell with the rest.

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Theology

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