How Pandemics, Depressions And Disasters Are Used By God

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

How can any good come from global pandemics, economic depressions, and natural disasters? God has a history of using evil for good.

The Black Plague

Perhaps the worst disaster to ever occur in human history, besides the Flood, was the Black Plague, which was also known as the Pestilence and the Great Mortality, but it was mostly called The Plague, and it was the deadliest pandemic ever recorded in human history. That’s why it was sometimes referred to as the Black Death. The plague resulted in the deaths of up to 200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking around the 1350’s. Tragically, it took almost 1 in 3 lives in the known world, however, recent historical evidence suggests that 50-60% of the population of Europe died during the Black Death. This is a much higher proportion than the often-cited “one-third.” We might think the recent pandemic is a sign of the end times, but what must they have thought in the 14th century!? Many thought it was a judgment from God and that the world was about to end, but they were obviously wrong, so many today who believe the pandemic is a sign of the end times could also be wrong. We just don’t know the day or hour of Christ’s return (Mark 13:32).Fear of Death

The Church’s Response

What did the Christian church do during the Black Plague when so much death was around them? How did they respond? The answer might surprise you. Sadly, many blamed the Jews who were not dying at nearly the same rate as the rest, but that was probably due to their better diet, but also following the Old Testament laws for sanitation and waste disposal kept them healthier, however they suffered severe persecution for it, so how did Christians respond to all the plague victims surrounding them? Did they distance themselves so that they wouldn’t get it too? No! To the contrary, they cared for the sick rather than desert them as the unsaved were doing. By interceding, the Christians saved thousands, if not millions of lives! In most cases, it was simply a matter of giving them adequate food and water. Some believe that this Christian caregiving reduced the mortality by as much as two-thirds!

The Unsaved Response

Clearly, the unsaved noticed the care these believers were giving. They saw these examples with their own eyes, and often, seeing their own family members was saved from death. This care must have made a deep and lasting impression on the pagans. These great acts of kindness produced thousands of converts, particularly by those who were nursed back to good health. They felt they owed their lives to these Christians. And curious as it was to the unsaved, the Christians cared not only for their own (which were fewer in number), but they cared for others, even if they didn’t know them. It didn’t matter whether they were Christian or not. Here is a case where God used great evil for great good using believers as a means to His end (Gen 50:20). Even though millions died, many more millions had their lives saved, but even more so, many trusted in Christ. If not for The Plague, and the Christian care so tenderly given, many would have perished, but more importantly, millions would have perished without Christ. God can use pandemics, depressions, and disasters for His own and our own good. He is God!

The Storms of Life

Every person has either gone through a trial, is going through one now, or is headed for one. It’s just the way life is. No one is exempt. Innocent children get cancer. Drug addicts go free; however, the child of God knows that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13). If you’re going through a trial or a test, God will make a way for you to endure it, but also to escape it. He doesn’t say when that will happen, but it will happen. God uses things that afflict us to humble us and make us seek Him and be more dependent upon Him, but there are many storms in life and with many purposes. There are:

Storms of Affliction (to humble us)
Storms of Direction (to direct us)
Storms of Reflection (to examine ourselves)
Storms of Correction (to correct us)
Storms of Perfection (to make us more like Christ)

God’s Sovereignty

What Does it mean to be spiritually dead

Think of these storms as the rudder in a ship whose sails are directed by the breath of God. These are intended for our good and not harm. The Apostle Paul had experienced enough bad things in his missionary work that he knew “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). He understood that suffering was God’s purpose and was often used as a means to reach others with the gospel. If not for Paul’s imprisonment, the jailer and his whole family wouldn’t have heard the gospel and been saved, so the bad of Paul’s being in prison ended up doing much good for the jail and his household (Acts 16:31-34).


I hope this has helped you see that even the bad things that happen to us will end up helping us. I don’t know how that works, but it does. God has this under His control. I know that nothing happens in life without a purpose behind it, and the God with a purpose, but if you’ve never come to trust in Christ, everything in life can work for your bad. It’s a good day to trust in Christ (2 Cor 6:2), because tomorrow may be too late (Heb 9:27). If Jesus comes, and you are not saved, I suggest you read this as a serious warning: Revelation 20:12-15.

Here is some related reading for you: Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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