By Ken Rice

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With so much suffering as the novel coronavirus spreads around the world, people of faith may wonder: How can this be? How can a compassionate creator allow this? Couldn’t a benevolent God have altered the virus — in even the slightest way — to render it harmless?

Where is God in a global pandemic? Ken Rice put the question to several local religious leaders, asking them, admittedly unfairly, for just a brief response to what is a big question.

Rev. Liddy Barlow, Executive Minister, Christian Associates of Southwest PA:

“Christians believe that in Jesus, God entered into this world. In all of its beauty but also in all of its misery, all of its mess. And that means that there is nothing, no part of human life, not our anxiety or illness or even death that God has not known right alongside us. And so there is nothing that God cannot redeem. “

Imam Chris Caras, Islamic Center of Pittsburgh:

“Ultimately whatever God tests us with as individuals or as a community, whether it is sickness or health, prosperity or poverty, should be a catalyst for us to thank God for his bounties and be patient and continue keeping our duty to him during times of difficulty. It’s also a time for us to count our blessings and consider the less fortunate, and find a way to help them if we can, with trust and faith that God will help us in return.”

Bishop David Zubik, Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh:

“As I think about faith I think we have a recognition of two invisible forces. The first is the invisible force of the pandemic that is rearing its ugly head all throughout the world. The second is an invisible force that is much more powerful than the pandemic, and it is God. We need to be able to recognize that while we may be limited during the pandemic, God cannot be limited. It’s important for us to really connect with God, to rely on him and to be his hands and face and heart to all that we meet.”

Rabbi Danny Schiff, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh:

“Where is God, when so many are losing so much? God is present. God is the force that even in the darkest night will make us get out of bed tomorrow morning. God is the power that pushes us to bind up the wounds of broken hearts. God is the voice that tells us that life and the world and the future are still profoundly worthwhile.”