…is not concluded yet. Natural (and human made) disasters are nearly a daily occurrence. That fact warrents some contemplation, especially in view of:
- God is Almighty
- God is love
- Disasters of any kind do man harm, which is evil.
As an aside, is a natural disaster a disaster if no humans are involved? For all we know, geologic processses are essential for maintaining a people-friendly biosphere. Perhaps a part of the problem is that our species is metasizing out of all proportion and that is part of the reason why some have no choice but to live in areas where geologic processes occur, or live there by choice anyway. The species as a whole has free choice and therefore we can only blame ourselves for being subject to natural disasters or causing them like dessertfication or global warming. But, of course it must be admitted that not all share the same amount of guilt for this sorry state of affairs.
To get back to the theological perspective - in terms of the finality of the thing, what is the difference between deaths in an earthquake and a death because of a lightning strike? Yet to call a lightning strike a natural disaster does not have the same emotional impact as calling an earthquake a natural disaster. The difference lies in the numbers of people who die in the same given timespan. It is as if a lot of individual disasters are all happening at the same time. But remember that those who die in a natural disaster are all individual people who deserve to be viewed as such and not just as statistics.
So, in the end it comes down to this: Irrespective of the magnitude of the thing, disaster may strike any one of us, whether it be individually or as a member of a group.
What about human perpetuated disaster? We all know the most famous one to be quoted. Here is a Jewish response to the accusation that God is cruel and does not care about human suffering:
"Jewish answer: …(a)… covenant exists between God and the Jews, stipulating that the Jews must observe the Torah or be killed, The Jews made such an agreement with God as recorded in Leviticus 26. When European Jews ceased observing the Torah, they broke the agreement and suffered the consequences." (You may read more of the philosopher here: http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/07/questions-for-atheists.html)
I suspect that this answer may not sit well with many, many people (The question of whether every single one of them broke their covenant with God is a another topic for another time). I'm only exsampling this to show that the question of why this happened is answerable.
Christians also, suffered evil in the form of persecution, which refutes the myth at God is partial (or will be) to christians as far as suffering is concerned.
"It has been calculated that between the first persecution under Nero in 64 to the Edict of Milan in 313, Christians experienced 129 years of persecution and 120 years of toleration and peace. It has been estimated that more Christians have been martyred in the last 50 years than in the church's first 300 years.
At least since the fifth century, it has been customary to count ten major persecutions in the early church, a number that nicely parallels the ten plagues of Egypt. These ten persecutions are:
Persecution under Nero (c. 64-68). Traditional martyrdoms of Peter and Paul.
Persecution under Domitian (r. 81-96).
Persecution under Trajan (112-117). Christianity is outlawed but Christians are not sought out.
Persecution under Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180). Martyrdom of Polycarp.
Persecution under Septimus Severus (202-210). Martyrdom of Perpetua.
Persecution under Decius (250-251). Christians are actively sought out by requiring public sacrifice. Could buy certificates (libelli) instead of sacrificing. Martyrdoms of bishops of Rome, Jerusalem and Antioch.
Persecution under Valerian (257-59). Martyrdoms of Cyprian of Carthage and Sixtus II of Rome.
Persecution under Maximinus the Thracian (235-38).
Persecution under Aurelian (r. 270–275).
Severe persecution under Diocletian and Galerius (303-324
These are some of the worst human perpetuators of evil.
The Armenians were christians who lived in the Ottoman empire (Islam) Persecution started in 1894 and reached its peak in 1915 - 1917 when 1 to 1.5 milion christians were killed in the Armenian genocide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide).
I do not ridicule the intensity of the suffering. Yet in terms of the finality of the thing, one can say that there is no difference between a massacre and a murder. The difference lies in the number of people who die.
And each of us will die, which will die, because of natural or human causes, which will be a disaster for someone else.
Each of us has to face death, as those poor Jews or christians did. Where will God be when the time of your death arrives? You ask this question when disaster trikes someone else - you should also ask it of youself. God is omnipresent. He is there, in your death crisis (Dan.3). Perhaps I should also ask you this question: Where would you like God to be in those final moments - sitting in judgement or welcoming you at the gates of heaven?