Well, sometimes "His ways are past finding out!" (Rom.11:33.) Well, what comes to me is that He usually deals more strictly with His Own children than He does with the World and the Godless. He deals more stringently with those that know better, "Who know to do good and do it not, to them it's sin." (Ja.4:17.)
The country folk and small town people usually have more of the truth and know it better and profess to follow it. They're more religious and churchy and usually more faithful to the old standards and religious teachings than are the godless or anti-God city people that God just sort of seems to let go their way sometimes until they crash themselves.
But He deals strictly with His own children and those who are the closest to the truth and know better. Like chastisement, "They that are without chastisement are not sons but bastards." (Heb.12:8.) So we're to thank God when we are chastised of the Lord, it's a sign that we are His sons.
No doubt those people are being chastened and chastised of the Lord for their sins, the things He lets city people get away with because they're not His children and godless and are totally destroying themselves. He doesn't have to chastise them, it wouldn't do any good.
He chastises the people that there are still some hopes for, and He punishes them and brings down judgments and chastisements on them to try to straighten them out and get them to repent. With the city people there's not much hopes of repentance, besides, He doesn't have to destroy them, they destroy themselves.
So that's about the way I see it, because I know God is righteous and God is just! God is fair and God is loving, so I know He knows what's best. If He slaughters thousands in earthquakes and so-called natural disasters which are obviously the judgments of God--"acts of God" even as they're called in insurance policies and laws--then we know that it's God's will and that God is doing it or allowing the Devil to do it for some reason, and that His reasons are good and fair and just and loving and even kind.
After all, even all of those who were killed are as the World would say the "lucky" ones or the blessed ones, because if they did know the Lord or they did have faith or believe, they've gone to a better World where they'll learn better. The ones left behind and suffering either pain or grief are the ones God is still trying to reach.
For the others, the lesson is over and school is out and they've graduated to another realm to learn, possibly because they couldn't learn here. But the ones left behind are the ones to feel sorry for who are still suffering sorrow, grief, pain and deprivation. As someone has said, "the living dead," those who still must suffer in this World to learn their lessons before they're ready to go.
When God takes people it must be their time for some reason. Of course with some, as Jesus said of the Scribes and Pharisees, the most wicked of all, the self-righteous, the hypocrites, He said their time was always ready! (Jn.7:6.) And when they asked Him about the people upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, were they more wicked than others, the Lord gave a rather indirect answer. He said, "I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish!" (Lk.13:4,5.)
He said of the self-righteous, hypocritical, cruel, selfish, demon-possessed Scribes and Pharisees, "Ye are of your father the Devil" and "the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews but are not" (Jn.8:44; Rev.2:9), "Your time is always ready!" (Jn.7:6.) In other words, "You could go anytime because your cup of iniquity is full and you could be cut off any time and it would be due to you!"
Only God knows in his wisdom just exactly why he takes so many in a natural disaster, like I think 20,000 in Algeria recently (in 1980) and 2,000 in Italy, and hundreds other places, but it's apparently their time. It's a big subject and a big question that the World has wondered over for ages, even Christians and theologians and church leaders: Why does God destroy so many people?
Why did He destroy the whole world in a flood? Because they were so wicked He just couldn't let them continue! They were destroying souls, they were destroying the souls and the spirits and the lives and even the bodies of their own babies, so before they could destroy any more and destroy themselves and their children, God destroyed them all! He didn't even want them bringing any more wicked children into the World.
He deals more with the good people and the best people, the truly good people; He deals with them more strictly and chastises them as His children than He does with the totally Godless anti-God wicked.
The thing that people wonder about is why it so often seems to strike the poor and the needy and the helpless and children and the innocent. Well, when you realise there's a better World Hereafter and the afterlife is one to be anticipated and looked forward to, who else but those who are the most suffering and the most innocent need to be relieved of this life and will appreciate the next life more than ever? Who else deserves to go sooner?
As someone has said, "The good die young!" Well, this isn't always true, but it seems often true. Who better deserves to go on to a better World than the good? Yet most people say "they don't deserve to die"; well, that depends on where they're going! "To deserve to die" for us (believing born again Christians) means a promise and something far better than we have now.
To deserve to die means we have finished our job! "We have fought the good fight, we have kept the faith, and from henceforth is laid up for us a crown of righteousness!" (2Tim.4:7,8.) So we deserve now to die having finished our job. To us, death is literally a blessing and a relief and an exit from the horrors of this World!
So for the poor and the suffering and the starving and sick little children, for them to die is a blessing! It's the ones who are left behind that are to be pitied, the ones who don't die. But those, no doubt, God is trying to teach lessons to and prepare for the afterlife to get them ready to die--which they frequently do soon after their suffering and their sorrow.
Death is not a curse for little children and the innocent and ignorant and the poor and the suffering and the less responsible, less accountable. Death is not a curse for them, because they go to a better World and a better life and a relief from the evils of this horrible planet, and so death's a blessing.
So perhaps this is why the Lord allows so many of the poor and the young to die, those who are suffering just almost beyond endurance in this life. Therefore the Lord takes them out of their suffering and out of their poverty and out of their pain and out of their starvation, and blesses them with death--which to those upon whom He has such mercy is a mere gateway, a doorway, an entrance to a better life in which they'll be relieved of all this.
So perhaps that's why the Lord allows so many of the poor country people and villagers to die in some of these great disasters, because they're the ones who are struggling and starving and suffering and poor and poverty-stricken and oppressed and in pain and oppression almost beyond endurance, so God mercifully relieves them from this life. (Maria: And from the suffering brought on by the Devil and his workings, instead of the Lord like most people try to say.) Yes.
So often the Devil brings on suffering to some people without killing them, hoping they will blame it on God and turn against God and "curse God and die" as Job's wife advised him to do, and as [some] Jews so often do. (Job 2:9.) They blame God for all their troubles and curse Him for them, because they are of their father the Devil and of the Synagogue of Satan and are not Jews but pretend to be what they're not!
So the Lord allows the enemy to test people to see if they're going to endure in faith and trust God anyway and say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!" (Job 13:15.) And when they express that kind of faith, either He rewards them with relief and new life, or death and new life, one or the other.
The whole thing is, people have difficulty getting over this habit of considering death a complete curse, that to die is horrible and it's awful that all these tens of thousands of people should be killed in great disasters, etc. Well, that's not awful and horrible! The more people that get out of this World, the better off they are, much better off! They should be thankful, and they probably are!
Except the very wicked, who God seems to almost ignore until the very end, and then He just completely wipes'm out just to get rid of'm!--No doubt send them to Hell to learn the lessons there that they refused to learn here. (Maria: But the moderately sinful won't go to Hell at all?) Everybody will be rewarded according to his works and according to his sins or whatever they are.
He says that they which did things deserving punishment, stripes, having known their Master's Will and still did those things, shall be beaten with many stripes--they will receive severe punishment. But those who knew not their Master's will and yet did things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with very few stripes. (Lk.12:47,48.)
Their punishment will be very light, corrective, no doubt of the chastisement nature, and they'll undoubtedly then repent and be forgiven and given a new life completely--not the same as those who are saved, not the same as those who serve the Lord faithfully here and repented here and now before death, but there are going to be plenty of people repenting after death, that's obvious.
Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison, and there wouldn't have been any point in preaching to them if it hadn't been possible for them to repent and be sorry for their sins and to receive some kind of opportunity thereby to get forgiveness and to find a better life, to be delivered from their imprisonment in the heart of the Earth. Whatever it was or what it was like is not clear, but if it's spoken of as a prison, that's bad enough! (Mt.12:40; 1Pet.3:19; 4:6; Eph.4:9.)
But for Jesus to come and preach to them, it was obviously to give them an opportunity to believe and receive which they had not had, and to be released or saved. That's obvious, you don't even have to argue about it. Theologians argue about it because it doesn't fit their particular doctrine, but it's right there in the Bible plain as day! Why else would Jesus have gone to the trouble to preach to them unless there was a second chance in some way--really their first chance--and an opportunity for them to be sorry and repent and be forgiven and released?
God probably has as varied terms and means of punishment and correction in the afterlife as there are in this life under the System and its laws, etc. He's probably got a great and wide variety to show people how wrong they were and give them an opportunity of repentance and change--as has been manifested in many near-death experiences or of people who have had death experiences. ("Life after Death")
God actually let them leave this life temporarily to show them their mistakes when they couldn't learn any other way; to actually come face to face with the Judgement Angel and be told and showed and taught where they were making their mistakes and what they were doing wrong, with the opportunity to correct their life and even allowed to go back and live again in order to change!
Well, if God will do that for the living, then why not also for the dead? If there's no further opportunity or possibility of them learning and repenting in this life, then He takes them on the other side permanently to show them and teach them--and there's no point in showing them unless there's opportunity of repentance and some chance that they'll be able to change.
And if there's a chance to repent and change not only here but there, then there must be some opportunity for forgiveness and release from punishment and from chastening and such purging as Purgatory. Purgatory, as the Catholics call it. I'm a firm believer in Purgatory, but not necessarily their kind of Purgatory, whether it's Hellfire, Lake of Fire or whatever, it's a purging.
It seems from all I can gather from the scripture, that the lake of fire is pretty bad punishment for the very worst! To be cast in the Lake of Fire you've got to be a pretty wicked sinner who has been really defiant of God and every opportunity God has given you to repent, and have really done a lot of damage and hurt a lot of people; like Hitler and some others, someone who has turned many astray.
It almost seems that Hell could hardly be bad enough for some people!--Like some of our enemies who have persecuted their own children and imprisoned them and tortured them to try to persuade them to deny their faith! It seems to me that Hell's almost too good for such people who would take their own children and torture them and even kill them rather than have them change their faith!
So that's the kind of people the lake of fire is reserved for--including the Devil and the False Prophet and the Antichrist and all his crowd! That's very plain in the Scripture. (Rev.14:11; 19:20; 20:10,14-15; 21:8.) The very worst, the scribes and the Pharisees, the [hypocrites], and the ultimately wicked who just are horrible and have slaughtered millions and destroyed nations and killed babies and innocent women and children, Hell could hardly be bad enough for some of those people, and it'll be plenty bad! It'll be bad enough, God will see to that!
But for the people who haven't been that horrible and that wicked, but have been disobedient--especially of course for those who knew God's will and knew the truth and defied and disobeyed it--they'll receive a very great punishment even though saved! They're going to receive a certain amount of correction for their disobediences, even though they claim to be saved.
It says "His Master," so he must be their Master, they must be saved! In this case He says, "That servant which knew his Master's will and prepared not himself neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not his Master's will"--in other words, the ignorant and innocent, those who never heard the Gospel and never heard about Jesus--"and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." (Lk.12:47,48.)
These folks, they not only didn't know it was their Master's will, they didn't even know there was a Master, possibly! But if they didn't know their Master's will and did things worthy of stripes, they're still worthy of some punishment. Because the Lord Himself in His Word says "This is the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the World!" (Jn.1:9.) Everybody is given some light.