I have never heard a good explanation from anyone speaking for the church on why we have so much evil and tragedy when we have a "loving" God. But I recently ran across a couple of authors who tackled this question in different ways which I found interesting – and you may also. The first is an article by the famous novelist A.J. Cronin that appeared in the September 1950 issue of Reader’s Digest titled “Why I Believe in God”. It was a condensed version of an article originally published in the Woman’s Home Companion. His explanation is hard to take but, at least, seems to make some sense.
After hearing a scientist explain the original formation of the earth and the evolution of life, he commented:
“The truth is, in all investigations of science into the nature and purpose of these awe-inspiring processes, there is no valid basis for denying the existence of God. Rather is one driven to conclude that in primordial creation, in the motivation of the universe and the operation of the natural laws there is, has been and always will be a Supreme Intelligence.”
“The stumbling block to this belief, for many earnest people, lies in the evil and pain so widely prevalent. How can this Devine Being be credible, they ask, in the face of a world afflicted by storm and flood, by famine, by pestilence, earthquake and lightning stroke, by dreadful and agonizing diseases, by death in its cruelest forms? Surely, they cry, your God was a most imperfect Architect to produce so ungodly a result!”
“We, alas, in the materialistic age, obsessed by the pursuit of pleasure, forget that mere enjoyment is not the be-all and end-all of existence. If we accept God and our own immortality, we understand that our lives are not meant to be a joyride but a time – all too short – of preparation; a moment, in terms of eternity, of testing and endurance, when we stand poised upon the threshold of the hereafter. We are indeed destined to suffer, and the more we try to insulate ourselves against suffering, the more we will suffer. One of the wisest yet humblest men who ever lived, Thomas á Kempis, wrote this: ‘So long as suffering appears grievous to thee and thou seekest to fly from it, so long will it be ill with thee, and the tribulation from which thou fliest will everywhere follow thee’”
“By acceptance of discomfort and pain of disappointment and misfortune and sorrow, we survive the supreme test of submission to the will of God.”
Another explanation of this question can be found in the novel “Calculating God” by Robert J. Sawyer. In his story, two alien species visit earth and, in their discussions with an earth scientist, reveal to his surprise, that they both believe in God and came to that belief independently. Much of their discussions involve the make-up of the universe and its beginnings. They do not know, or care, if God made the universe but are convinced he controls many aspects of it and prove their point with a great deal of scientific data. The human scientist has terminal cancer and asks if they have a cure but both aliens admit their species also can get and die from the disease and the scientist wonders why God can be so cruel. Here is his question and their answer:
“There are lots of devoutly religious humans who have died horrible deaths from cancer and other diseases. How do you explain that? Hell, how do you explain the existence of cancer? What kind of God would create such a disease?”
“He/she/it may not have created it,” said the deep, translated voice. “Cancer may have arisen spontaneously in one or multiple possible timeslices. But, the future does not happen one at a time. Nor are there an infinite number of possibilities from which God may choose. The specific deployment of realty that included cancer, presumably undesirable, must have contained something much desired.”
“So he had to take the good with the bad?” I said.
“Conceivably.” said T’kna.
“Doesn’t sound much like a god to me,” I said.
“Humans are unique in believing in divine omnipotence and omniscience,” said T’kna. “The true God is not a form idealized; he/she/it is real and therefore, by definition, imperfect; only an abstraction can be free of flaws. And God is imperfect, there will be suffering.”
(This is followed by a lecture on the emptiness of the universe and a definition of a vacuum, and then)
“There are no perfect vacuums; there is no perfect God. And your suffering requires no more explanation than that unavoidable imperfection.”
“But imperfection only explains why suffering begins,” I said. “Once your God became aware that someone was suffering, if he had the power to stop it, then surely, as a moral being, he would have to do so.”
”If God is indeed aware of your illness and has done nothing,” said T’kna’s computer-generated voice, “then other concerns mandate that he/she/it let it run its course.”
(The scientist is very upset and an argument ensues. The alien finally answers )
“If God did not directly create cancer, then to berate him/her/it for its existence is unjust. And if he/she/it did create it, then he/she/it did so because it is necessary. Your death may serve no purpose to yourself or your family. But if it does serve some purpose in the creator’s plan, you should be grateful that, regardless of the pain you might feel, you are part of something that does have meaning.”
Another quote I heard somewhere but can’t remember the source put the same general thought trend a little differently but still cogent, “ A very determined mind goes on forever.”