This question is not ultimately about God’s location. It essentially asks the age-old question, “Why does God allow evil to happen?”
Frequently this question comes from someone who has no use for the things of God, can’t bother to obey the least of His commands, and generally live as they please. Now they act as if He owes them some sort of explanation.
That being the case, I suspect some are not genuinely seeking to understand the Scriptural truth that would answer their question – they merely are seizing this tragedy as an opportunity to justify their total disregard for the sovereign King of the universe. No answer will satisfy them because they do not want it to.
Others who are asking “Why?” are suffering and are not at the best point to receive the truth. Even if they already know it, it is not the time to remind them of nuanced explanations. The best response to them is love, compassion, care, and encouragement. There will be opportunity later to discuss with them the theological answers to their questions.
Some (including those with strong faith) are genuinely wondering, “Why does God allow evil to occur?” They have genuine doubts, wish to help others, or want to be prepared for trials of their own.
The answers to this question are not easy, nor are they complete. It is important to remember there are some things we will not know in this life.
Can we at least at this point admit that we do not know everything? God does. Since He knows all and we don’t, since He knows correctly and we can be mistaken, it is
possible likely certain that He knows more and better than we do. It would be best to be careful before we start accusing God about what we don’t know. (Job 42:3)
There are, however, some things we do know:
1. Evil exists because God gave man a free-will. Man has the ability to choose, and unfortunately he chooses sin (Psalm 14:1-3). Sometimes this sin is minor in its consequences, but at other times it has tragic effect on others.
2. Our sovereign God can bring good out of the evil that man freely chooses to do as well as tragic natural events. (Romans 8:28 – this is for believers, but the principle of God’s sovereignty remains the same). This is true even when we don’t see or understand what possible good can come out of it.
3. Sometimes God allows one evil to happen in order to prevent another, worse evil. (Isaiah 57:1-2; cf. 1 Kings 14:1-13)
4. Sometimes God allows evil in order to work a great good (Genesis 6; The cross).
5. Sometimes God allows evil by simply allowing us to experience the consequences of our own foolish choices (Romans 1:24-32). Take away the restraint of accountability to God from a society, for example, and the consequences will be evil.
6. We don’t know what evil God is already restraining (Jeremiah 17:9). The amazing thing is that man is not as evil as he could be.
7. God is just (Isaiah 30:18). Though we may not ever see true justice for some on this earth, God will ultimately bring absolute righteous justice to the earth.
8. God is good (Psalm 34:8). Nothing that happens can change that. No matter what else we don’t know or understand, we can rest in this truth.
9. God is love (1 John 4:8). No evil event can separate His children from that love (Romans 8:35-39)
This is not an exhaustive evaluation of the matter. It will not satisfy some. It will not provide the “why” for all the questions. What it does is remind us that when our understanding fails, God’s faithfulness and goodness does not.