It seems that after any disaster, particularly one that is natural, such as a hurricane, earthquake, or tsunami, the question of "where is / was God?" comes up. Indeed, in the recent interview of Rob Bell, and his unorthodox, albeit heretical views on the doctrine of Hell, the MSNBC interviewer, Martin Bashir opened his segment with,
Which of these is true? Either, God is all powerful but he doesn't care about the people of Japan and, therefore, their suffering; or, He does care about the people of Japan, but he's not all powerful. Which one is it?
Aside from the fact that the questions reflect a false dichotomy - if the God of the Bible is being referenced, then neither question is true - one must still come to grips with how God is addressed in times of great pain.
Suffice it to say that God is God and we are his creation. If one, at the outset, does not believe, or at least understand that basic point, then one will have a difficult, if not impossible time accepting the conclusions that follow.
I do find it interesting, however, that it is in times of great human suffering that agnostics and atheists tend to raise up the question of God. I'm reminded of the story of Bertrand Russell, and his famous question posed to Christians, regarding what they would say of God's existence at the bed of a dying child. And then I recall the rebuttal to Russell, posed by William Lane Craig, regarding what the atheist would say to that same child. "Tough luck"? "That's the way it goes"?
In like manner, whenever anyone questions God after a natural disaster, would it not be prudent to ask the individual how they propose to explain the suffering, strictly in terms of naturalism? Wouldn't it be fair to inquire how they propose to deal with the very real heartache, all in terms of the laws of physics? If they ask "where is your loving God?", could we not ask "do your books on plate tectonics bring you comfort?"
You see, despite the apparent quandary that the question of God seems to pose, it ultimately exposes the vacuous wasteland which atheists must inhabit, if they are to remain true to their worldview. Yes, the answers to suffering, provided by the Christian worldview, may leave one feeling unsatisfied, grieving, and shattered - but they do not leave one without hope. And hope is the basis for which assurance exists, an assurance which rests not on sight but on faith - faith grounded in knowledge, which prevails against the feelings attempting to rip us apart from the one who is our God.
As such, the Christian response, in times of tragedy, must be one of love. Ater all, God is God, and we are his creation.