Omicron may sound like an enemy of Doctor Who but in reality it’s the next variant of concern discovered in South Africa and now spreading through the U.K. It’s early days, and as I write there are only nine discovered cases in the UK, but we’ve learned that it won’t stop there. A Covid variant considered more transmissible than the Delta variant is going to become very familiar to us.
Doctors in South Africa are saying that so far it’s producing very mild Covid in those who have it, not needing visits to doctors or hospitalisation. If that’s true, and it becomes the dominant variant in the U.K., Omicron could become a welcome friend rather than an enemy. That hasn’t stopped countries across the world from panicking, and the U.K. is not alone in rushing in tougher regulations to try and hold it back so we can gain a better understanding of the potential harm it can do. That’s frustrating in some respects but it also seems very wise. When you have an unknown enemy don’t take chances.
Our approach to Omicron is driven by uncertainty. Not knowing what we’re up against, and seeing the impact of previous Covid variants, uncertainty creates fear and fear creates despair. Well, that’s true unless you know someone greater than Covid who fully understands it, and who can contain its destructive nature. That’s God.
God has what we call permissive will. Sin has brought great harm to what was God’s perfect creation and every day it continues to do so. Sickness and disease is a part of sin’s destructive nature. God doesn’t want sickness, he doesn’t want worldwide pandemics, but he will allow them as they help us to see what our sin is doing. This is his permissive will. He allows things to happen for our good even though we can’t see it that way. In so doing he calls us back to himself. Mankind made a terrible mistake in rejecting God and today’s world provides evidence of our mistake. Covid didn’t just happen. Tracing its origins to a lab in Wuhan or a livestock market is fascinating but not valid. Covid’s origin is the Garden of Eden where sin first entered the world. Everything bad that’s happened in the world is traced back to that first act when man asserted his will over God’s. God knew what would happen and he warned Adam and Eve but they didn’t listen. God created a perfect world, man has since created a terrible world.
God not only allows disease but he has in the past used it as a tool of judgement. We may not like the sound of that but a wise man once said “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (1) God is a perfect God who only does what is right. He doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t get it wrong, and therefore we know that whatever he does, or whatever he allows, it’s right. It doesn’t mean we have to like it but we can learn from Jesus who, when confronted with the awfulness of what God his Father was going to allow to happen to him, including his death, said, “not my will, but yours be done.” (2) He trusted that what his Father was doing was the right thing.
King David once made a mistake that incurred God’s anger and brought judgement. As a result of his mistake God gave David three choices. “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” (3) None of the choices are good and they reflect how seriously God took David’s error. What would be your choice? David didn’t hesitate. He said, “Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” (4) David chose three days of plague knowing that what God allowed to happen was far more merciful than what men might do.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that Covid is a punishment from God, but what I am suggesting is that despite the harm it does God is still in control of his world and Covid will do no more damage than his permissive will allows. Covid is one of many pandemics that has affected the world. Spanish Flu was the last and the Black Death the most famous. They hit us for a time and then they lose their effect. Covid will lose its effect one day, but while it’s here let’s not be dismayed but use this time to reflect and trust in the Almighty God who loves us despite our sins.
- Genesis 18:25
- Luke 22:42
- 2 Samuel 24:13
- 2 Samuel 24:14