February 5, 2021
Dear TCCBC church family,
Last week, I mentioned to you that Brother Huang Guo-Wei, on behalf of some church members, raised some of the questions that have been in people’s minds these days. In addition to the topic of the US presidential election, some of the questions concern the coronavirus. The following is taken from Brother Huang’s email: “Secondly, regarding COVID-19, you said it was from God just like the ten plagues of Egypt that God had brought and the church is now forced to close. Does a disaster from God forbid His people to worship in the temple? I think this is due to Satan’s tricks such as Satan’s attack on Job only with God’s permission. If this pandemic is from God, then we can only be silent and listen to God’s anger. But from the beginning we pray and believe that God will finally defeat Satan, stop the plague, heal the land, and reopen the church.”
First of all, I still have to thank Brother Huang Guo-Wei for his sincere fellowship and for expressing what many people want to say. When talking on the phone, I thought that the pandemic was an attack by Satan, not from God. But what I said is: We cannot rule out the possibility this is a discipline or warning from God. This is definitely different from saying that “COVID-19…is from God.” Possibility is not the same as inevitability. I believe everyone can understand this.
Did the pandemic come from God? I don’t know, nor can I say yes or no with certainty. Just as we affirm that the outbreak of the pandemic must have come from Satan, not from God, it is also arbitrary. Will God just allow Satan to attack the world with viruses? Of course it is possible, but it is not absolute. Unless we have enough information and evidence, any judgment may be biased which may not be the truth.
The Book of Job does allow us see that there are people in this world who are indeed completely like Job, who may suffer disasters for no obvious reason. The Bible also clearly tells us that Satan, with God’s permission, launched an attack on Job. In the New Testament, we also see that the apostle Paul worked hard and devoted himself to the gospel, but throughout the entire mission, he was repeatedly persecuted and attacked by the enemy. Looking at what happened to Paul from 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 alone, people who read this passage are shocked and wonder is this the experience of the faithful? Paul regards these attacks from the evil enemy as a way for God to tell him to learn to be strong in the Lord and to let the power of Christ enable him and to see what has happened is for the Lord’s sake, helping him to be more joyful in his ministry. (2 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Therefore, there is indeed a biblical basis for “the righteous suffering”, and we can find more evidence and examples in the Bible. But if it is because of this, it is wrong to make the inference that “all who are suffering and disasters are righteous”. When God’s people abandon God and deviate from God’s true way, will God administer His discipline, or even bring disasters? If we say no, where in the Bible is our basis?
Looking at the Bible, whether it is a Gentile country or the people of God, we can see that God once brought disasters on those who oppose Him or forsook God. In order to save the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh and bring them to the land of God’s promise, God once brought ten plagues in Egypt. King David failed to count the people without authorization according to God’s instructions, displeasing God, ” So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:7). This disaster was a “plague” and 70,000 Israelites died. (1 Chronicles 21:14). I recently searched the Book of Amos with some brothers and sisters and talked about whether Judah or Israel rejected the teachings of Jehovah and followed false idols, so that God said that He would pursue all their sins. There is a thought-provoking sentence that asks: “ Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Am 3:6). Obviously, the answer is yes, it is a plague from the Lord.
I’m sorry, but I spent a lot of space talking about whether God will bring disasters or not, but I hope that my dear brothers and sisters can understand that not only will God bless, but He will also bring disasters. As Isaiah said in the book of the prophets: “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)
Back to the origin of this discussion, “COVID-19… is from God”? My answer is that I don’t know, but is it possible? The answer is not impossible. Regardless of whether the root cause of the virus is a natural phenomenon or a malicious creation by a frenzied careerist, is it possible that God uses these to issue warnings and to discipline people? For a Christian, what we should think about now is, is it possible for God to warn the world through such a pandemic? When more and more people in this world argue that there is no absolute truth and seriously deviate from God’s true way, will God take advantage of the pandemic, like “the roar of the lion in the forest” and “the blowing of the trumpet in the city,” in order to awaken mankind and to repent of their evil ways, to ask God for forgiveness, and to return to the true way?
I believe that the brothers and sisters already know that Paster Stephen Choy and his wife Candace, our newly hired English pastor, have successfully given birth to their first-born son on the afternoon of January 31, named “Micah.” Let us be grateful and rejoice with them and pray for them so that they can smoothly take care of their newborn baby and pray for their preparations for moving to California.
Next Thursday is New Year’s Eve. I would like to send the brothers and sisters for an early New Year greetings. I wish you and your family can celebrate the New Year peacefully and serve our God joyously in the coming year!
Welcoming the New Year together,
Pastor Job Lee, Senior Pastor
With fellow church leadership team