Why is it that when a Christian (or other "person of faith") is blighted with illness or confronted with a natural disaster it is a "trial," but when a nonbeliever or "sinner" has an identical problem it's called God's wrath?
God destroyed New Orleans because of its pagan festivals and perversity, but left Bourbon Street virtually untouched. Apparently, perversity is code for "being black and/or poor" in American Christianity.
Meanwhile, I overheard a woman at my local Starbucks speaking to a friend on the phone (there was a Bible by her side) about her terminal disease and how God was "trying" her. I don't mean "trying" as in the sense of frustration, but as a means of testing the strength of her faith. She said that "God could heal me anytime, if he wanted," but her faith perseveres in this sadistic monster because...well, I couldn't quite figure that part out. I guess the promise of eternal life without pain and heartache is her bribe for continuing to bless God while he is simultaneously killing her.
In the early 1980's a new disease called AIDS was running rampant through the gay community. No Christian groups started prayer circles to ask God to stop "trying" the faith of homosexuals. Many of the afflicted where likely Christians. Most of them probably believed in a personal God. But because they were unrepentant "sinners," AIDS was seen by many as God's wrath for the perversion that is homosexuality.
The Bible is no place for answers. The Book of Job presents the harrowing tale of a man repeatedly "tested" by God (in this case by God's emissary of doom, "Satan") and asked to recant his faith. In the course of this "trial," innocent people are killed (many of whom probably were also faithful) and Job is inflicted with every disease known to Iron Age people. Matthew 5:45 tells us that rain falls on the "just and unjust" alike, or maybe the "just" are just standing too close to the "unjust." And in Exodus, God "hardens" the heart of Pharaoh to Moses' pleas, but then inflicts harsh plagues upon Egypt anyway, WTF?
How is a person of faith to know which is happening to them and their loved ones? By the way, the woman in Starbucks also mentioned the passing of her siblings early in life. Perhaps God's faith trials are genetic? Just spitballin'.