Original Research

Where is God when it hurts? Theodicy from the pain of COVID-19

Kelebogile T. Resane
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2922 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2922 | © 2023 Kelebogile T. Resane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 November 2022 | Published: 07 March 2023

About the author(s)

Kelebogile T. Resane, Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology & Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


This article attempts to answer the question of God’s compassion during and after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Many people are asking questions about God’s care and love amid situations where they could not mourn the loss of the loved ones and find closure. African philosophy of death, mourning rituals and funeral ceremonies were curtailed or restricted by the government and therefore, mourners were left with wounds because they could not find closure for the loss of their loved ones. The aim is to point out that people are still mourning, as lockdown restrictions limited them from going through a grieving process, and that people, left with post-corona effects, are still asking the reality of God’s presence during times filled with pain. The interdisciplinary approach to the reality of situation, press releases and literature review are all combined to locate theodicy during the periods of pain. It is discovered that many who did not mourn and grieve culturally and religiously are still struggling emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Bereavement processes that were muzzled, can still be addressed theologically. Theodicy, as a theological concept, is utilised as a tool to strengthen faith and hope. Hope remains an anchor that keeps humanity floating above the circumstances. Eschatological hope remains the pillar when COVID-19 is deemed as a contradiction to the goodness of God. The conclusion is that, although the character of God such as love, kindness, empathy et cetera, is questioned, the reassuring message remains that God continues to comfort, guide and heal despite crises facing humanity. Humanity still needs post-grief healing and closure in order to reimagine and reassert normality of life.

Contribution: The author aims to highlight the importance of healing during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to answer the question of theodicy during the crises. How does one reconcile the goodness of God and the devastation of a pandemic during and after sufferings the world has experienced when one’s socio-cultural structures are challenged?


COVID-19; pandemic; grief; mourning; bereavement; theodicy; God’s goodness; hope

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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