By now everyone knows of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday – the strongest earthquake there in 200 years, destroying thousands of homes and killing we-don’t-know-how-many people.
Many people will ask, as they often do when disasters of this kind strike, Where was God? How does a loving God let thousands of innocent people suffer?
It is a hard question to answer. It is clear that such disasters don’t represent “punishment” by God. But why does God allow them to occur?
Following the 2004 tsunami, Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote, “God runs this world with as little supernatural interference as possible. Earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and, yes, tsunamis happen. It is called nature, which is not always benign. Fortunately, God also gave us intelligence and commanded us to make ourselves less vulnerable to nature.”
I’m not sure that really helps much. It tells us God doesn’t interefere, but says nothing about why not. And it is not entirely clear how the Haiti, a country that was already struggling painfully, could have made itself less vulnerable to the effects of the quake.
I don’t know that we can give a satisfactory answer to the question. I certainly don’t have one. And so perhaps all we can do is pray for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. And contribute to whatever extent we can to the various aid organizations trying to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake.
Tragedies, global and personal, bring such questions up in the minds of many.
I have found that Rabbi Harold Kushner’s book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” gives an excellent view of where God exists in such crises.
This is one of the few books that has stuck with me since I read it, and remains one of the most influential books of my life.