T. M. Gagnon has some early morning musings at his blog on the various "causes" of suffering and concludes that some forms of suffering (a la discipline) is from God and should be endured, like Christ, because of the joy set before us - the resurrection life!
While some make a necessary connection between suffering and evil, T.M. points out that that is not always the case, as evil produces no real pleasure (if I'm reading him right), while chastisement does.
Mr. Gagnon doesn't address another mistaken connection Christians make...and that is that discipline and punishment are NOT the same. We know that Christ took the penalty for our sin once and for all on the cross. Thus, while discipline can be severe and from the Lord, it is not penal in nature. We might well remember this in light of the various musings about natural disasters and God's wrath. I do not believe we are seeing God's direct punishment on our nation, despite all the talk from the "radical right wing conspiracy" (joke).
Thanks, Tyler, for either waking up early or staying up late to give us your nocturnal theological reflections. For a good read, visit the link.