*Whenever tragedy strikes it is normal for religious folks to ask whether God had abandoned the affected place. That seems to be a sensible assumption if one’s view of God precludes any possibility of suffering.

If God only exists to keep us in a state of happiness and pleasure, then yes, disasters would indicate God’s absence or displeasure.

But a biblical theodicy does not generally work that way. Scripture makes it clear that what God desires of his people is holiness, nor mere happiness. Indeed, God’s people can really benefit from developing a theology of suffering. We need to see how God can in fact use suffering for his purposes.

The recent Haiti disaster with around 500,000 dead or injured, and over a million people displaced certainly can seem like a case of God-forsakenness. And the truth is, in the Bible we do read on occasion of God forsaking a people – even his own – and allowing judgment and tragedy to strike.

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