John Piper has written a timely and beneficial book, which is broadly applicable to all suffering and pain, but specifically targeting the coronavirus. The pandemic, which is raging in 2020, has not only wreaked havoc throughout the world but has also unsettled even mature Christians. How are believers to understand and handle something so devastating and ugly? This short work is Piper’s attempt to provide a biblical answer.
He begins exactly where he should – with theology, which is the content of the first part of the book. Before we can engage with the coronavirus, we must recall and believe what is true about God: He is our Rock and hope (pp. 15-19); He is sovereign over all things (chapters four and five) and therefore appoints all things (p. 19); He is righteous and good (chapter three); He has given us the Bible, His Word, to guide and instruct us and reveal His glory (chapter two). When all this is pieced together we draw the conclusion that God has both sent the coronavirus (p. 42) and will sustain us in it (p. 45).
Part Two turns to practical application flowing from the theology presented. After some preliminary thoughts calling the reader to turn to God, not men, and to humbly recognize that we seldom know what God is doing at any given moment, Piper offers six things he believes God is doing through the coronavirus. Each of the six takeaways is given its own chapter. The Lord has sent the virus to:
1) Picture the moral horror and ugliness of sin in a world under the judgment of God. Piper writes, “Physical pain is God’s trumpet blast to tell us that something is dreadfully wrong in the world” (p. 66).
2) Bring specific judgment in select cases.
3) Sound a wake-up call to be ready for the return of Christ.
4) Call humanity, including Christians, to repentance and realignment of our lives in view of the infinite worth of Christ.
5) Draw His people away from self-pity and fear to good works and love that glorify God.
6) Loosen the roots of overly comfortable Christians so that they reach the world for Him.
Coronavirus and Christ is a very readable, biblically sound little book, which will enrich, challenge and encourage all who read it.
Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper (Wheaton: Crossway, 2020) 106 pp., paper $7.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/Teacher at Southern View Chapel