I’ve seen a few alarmists on social media wondering if the pandemic is God’s punishment for something. Same-sex attraction. Global warming. Something bad, and it usually seems stuff other people do. The authentic Christian tradition is pretty clear, as was Jesus:
As (Jesus) passed by
he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned,
this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God
might be made visible through him.” (John 9:1-3)
Right from the mouth of the Lord: “Neither he nor his parents sinned.”
That said, sometimes bad behavior does have natural consequences. An alcoholic might develop liver disease. An inattentive automobile driver might find herself or himself involved in an automobile accident. The innocent pedestrian didn’t sin. The perpetrator did. If you’re in a car, you have a much higher chance of avoiding injury or death than a flesh-and-blood being. Weighing the mutual result: death versus vehicular homicide conviction seems a skewed version of justice.
An earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster might strike. Most all victims are innocent, unless they’ve done something silly like jump into a tectonic fault or take a shower in a hurricane. We might enjoy legendary tales like Katharine Drexel’s KKK adversaries getting their headquarters wiped out by a Texas storm. But the calamities of the innocent don’t seem to be the result of a vindictive God.
As for covid-19, I have read of higher death rates from smokers and overweight persons, as well as those already weakened by battles with cancer or diseases of the heart and/or lungs. Or just old age. A life ends sooner than some might think it should, but personal fault might or might not be involved. That said, most smokers and overeaters don’t see themselves as sinning against their human frailties. Neither are innocent people who got sick through no fault of their own.
The virus is not a tool for a vengeful God. Jesus would suggest it’s an opportunity for people to step up and into their higher instincts.