A month ago tornadoes tore through the Ohio Valley from western Indiana into west-central Ohio. It demolished a hamlet, Moscow, OH which is on the Ohio River, 20 miles south of our home. My nephew, who is six, asked this question: 'Couldn't God have stopped it?'
It is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Do we simply say, "We are not to question God. He will do as He pleases and that is that"? To make such an arbitrary answer may turn some people away from God.
First we must understand that our God is a God of love. Above all, He loves His creation, so much so that He gave his life for mankind. We must also acknowledge that He is holy and just. As such, He is obligated to punish those who rebel against His kingdom and law. That would include everyone of us. We have all sinned against God, and therefore have fallen short of His glory. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God punished them with a cursed earth. Man was never created to live in the conditions he often places himself in. We were created to glorify God and enjoy His fellowship. Many of the bad things that happen to us are caused by people doing bad things to others or to themselves. And often people blame God. But is God responsible for disease, famine, pestilence, or other horrific acts of nature (sometimes referred to as acts of God)?
Let's look at Job who suffered incredible losses, all in one day, and then suffered excruciating pain. His three friends accused Job of doing something which must have made God angry with him. They said if he would repent, God would restore him to health and prosperity. But we are given a glimpse of what actually was happening behind the scenes. God and Satan were having a contest and Job was the subject. God never caused any of the suffering inflicted upon Job; Satan caused the loss and pain. He hates and despises all of God's creation, especially Christ- followers. Job stood firm in his faith in God, although he did not know the cause of his affliction. God won the contest and as a result was glorified.
I believe that often when the righteous are faced with pain and loss, it is often caused by the most wicked and hate-filled creature that has ever existed. Yes, God allows it but He is not the author of it. Although we may not understand why, we should trust that God knows best. He's never vindictive, and never allows us to bear a burden too heavy or a temptation too great. He always has a greater reason for what He allows, often to make us able to shoulder increased responsibilities as was the case with Joseph. After being sold into slavery by wicked and extremely jealous brothers (possibly incited by Satan), and then thrown into jail though he was innocent, he kept his faith in God and at just the right time God brought him out of jail and he was instantly installed as the prime minister of Egypt, and several years later prevented the starvation of thousands of people, including his own brothers.
Well, what about natural disasters, couldn't God prevent them? The answer is yes, He could. Then why doesn't He? The answer is not easy. We, like Job, cannot see behind the scenes. We also live in a sin-cursed world. When Adam and Eve sinned, God placed a curse upon the earth. One day it will all be changed. Rom. 8:21 states 'that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption.' Read Revelation 21 for a more in-depth description of the new earth which God will create after Satan's final defeat and after judgment has been passed upon the unsaved. But in the meantime we are living in a mean time. And it is not God's fault. The punishment for sin does not only happen after death. So much of the results of sin are experienced in this life, and tragically often innocent ones also suffer because of the sins of others. The greatest example of this is when the perfect Lamb of God was put to death at the hands of wicked men. Even in this, although the disciples thought surely God has made some terrible mistake, we know God's perfect will was accomplished in bringing the plan of salvation to the world.
We should also remember that it isn't all about us or our needs and desires. Ultimately God is in control and will do the right thing. Trust Him, because He loves you more than anyone does.