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Perhaps the suggested dilemma is this: either these critical historical events are intentionally brought about directly by God to fulfill his purposes (as when we say that God hardened pharoah’s heart), or God is absent from such events. 

But the seemingly obvious alternative is that God allows his own purposes to be frustrated by his creation, despite always being present in these events. So, rather than insisting that God has a particular purpose in causing such catastrophes, we might instead say that God only has a particular purpose in allowing (the possibility of) such catastrophes.  The difference seems significance; it’s like the difference between a parent allowing her child to fall and the parent shoving her child to the floor.  ”Why did you let me fall?” is still a pressing question, but it’s a lot different than “Why did you shove me to the floor?”

 

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