Rabbi Kushner teaches that natural disasters are somehow outside the purview of a loving God. In the face of unjust and inexplicable suffering, then, the responsibility of the faithful is to remain faithful—and to help relieve suffering. “The will of God,” says Kushner, “is not to send us the disaster, but to send us the disaster to overcome.” This, incidentally, is where the majority of scholars end up on Job. “There is a resolution to be found in the depth of a pious life lived before a mysterious God,” reads the commentary in the New Oxford Annotated Bible.
Theodicy remains the most powerful tool in the atheist’s kit, however, and many a believer has turned away from God over the suffering of innocents. Ehrman did. After a lifetime as a Christian, “I just got to a point where I couldn’t explain how something like this could happen, if there’s a powerful and loving God in charge of the world. It’s a very old problem, and there are a lot of answers, but I don’t think any of them work.” Even so, we will continue to do tzedakah—and to pray.