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01 May 2015

Where is God in an earthquake?

Where is God in an earthquake?

This week, more than 5,000 people have been killed in a natural disaster in one of Asia’s poorest countries.

I was at work last Saturday when the news of the earthquake in Nepal came through to the news desk. The only information sent on the alert was that it was a 7.8-magnitude quake and there are likely to be casualties. 

 From then on news came in to me in London rapidly. Every hour the number of people who had died rose. Every hour the extent of the devastation revealing itself. 

As well as the death toll, about 10,000 people have been injured and more than eight million people affected by the quake, according to the United Nations. 

Hundreds of thousands of people are now living in temporary camps. Those not fortunate enough to find a camp are forced to sleep in the open air; women and children are exposed and vulnerable. 

Reports coming from the region say basic supplies are scarce and, as with previous disasters like Typhoon Haivan and the Haiti earthquake, it's only a matter of time before disease spreads through the temporary shelters. 

 A natural disaster proves the uncertainty of life. 

 And with it comes a very natural question: “Where is God?” 

What some people struggle to understand is how a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good and all-loving allows natural disasters to happen. One of the greatest challenges we have as Christians is to continue to believe God and to trust Him – even in the midst of horrendous devastation.

After the Boxing Day tsunami I travelled to Sri Lanka with Alliance member Samaritan’s Purse. The reason I went was to report on the aftermath of one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history and tell the stories of families who had lost everything. 

What I brought back was stories of fishermen who had lost their livelihoods and become alcoholics, wives being beaten, children being abused. 

 But I was also able to tell stories of hope, and that was because of the qualified aid workers who had flown out there to provide emergency aid, support, care and love to those who needed it. 

We know that God ultimately showed His love to the world by sending Jesus, and His love can also shine through by our actions. 

The UK has pledged a further �5 million in support to Nepal’s rescue effort, bringing the total contribution to �15 million. And as I write, the Department for International Development says a team of UK rescue workers and a team of specialist rescue dogs has arrived in Nepal to help. 

Aid has begun reaching people near the epicentre and is also broadening out to remote villages. 

 Qualified aid workers are not only delivering emergency food and water but also grieving alongside those who have lost loved ones, trying in some part to alleviate their suffering. 

Victoria Laurence is a freelance broadcast journalist.

DEC appeal for Nepal: www.dec.org.uk