"Maybe Ray could tell me where his God was when the earthquake hit Christchurch two years ago...or did those people deserve to die?" Nick Mitchell
You have asked a very similar question to that which was asked of Jesus 2,000 years ago. Certain people came to Him and spoke of a large tower that fell down and tragically took the lives of 18 men. The inference was the same as yours. Did these people do something wrong? Jesus said, "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-8).
There is a tendency in many religions to think that when there are mass deaths through a natural disaster (earthquake, tsunami etc.,) that God punished those who died. However, Jesus didn’t directly address that question. He rather addressed those who were living about their own wickedness. The dead were dead and gone, but those who were still alive could be forgiven their sins, and that was the immediate issue.
You and I have greatly sinned against God and if He allowed His Law to fall upon us in its wrath, it would certainly crush and immediately damn each of us to Hell. But God is rich in mercy and offers us Heaven, if we repent and trust alone in the Savior.