People bring many different theological and philosophical perspectives to bear on the questions relate to the problem of pain and evil. They are too vast to fully explore for our purposes here. These various ideas which are brought to bear in an attempt to answer these questions often convolute, complicate, and obscure any answer which has the potential to satisfy the heart with intricate systems of thought that barely satisfy the mind. To get at the heart of the problem of pain and evil we have to ask two questions and be willing to listen to what God says in His word with regard to their answers. Who is God? Who am I in relation to God? From these two foundational questions we find answers with the potential to satisfy the heart and sustain a growing faith in God.
Sin is the source of the brokenness in this world. In Romans 5 we read that death came into the world as the result of the rebellion of Adam in the garden. Acting on behalf of man as the corporate head of the human race, Adam chose to rebel against God rather than to obey God. (Genesis 3:16-19) The result was a change in the nature of creation. God is not the author of evil. Adam and Eve chose rebellion. God is absolutely just, in the same way that He is completely holy and loving. Man’s choice brought about the consequence of death’s entrance into the world. Humanity has itself to blame for the brokenness of this world and if we are honest, we can plainly see that the greatest amount of pain and suffering that occurs in the world is brought about through hostility shared between people. The pain and suffering that is cited in your question, for example, is the pain and suffering which man has caused himself through his great and tragic propensity to destroy one another.
Conversely, God has offered humanity a way out of its sinful rebellion so that for those who choose Christ, there is a way to be reconciled to God. “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.” (Romans 5:15-16 NIV)
We have quickly addressed the origin of pain and suffering. What about its continued existence? Surely it is true that man causes much harm to man. Humanity is in many ways its greatest enemy. Why does God allow this pain and suffering to continue? Everything that occurs in the world and in our life has one grand purpose which offers meaning well beyond our immediate comfort, safety, or well-being. All that occurs does so either by design or divine allowance in order to draw mankind to a place of dependence upon God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)
Pain, suffering, sorrow, tragedy, is allowed to continue in this present period of human history in order to cut the legs out from under our pride, draw us to our knees in repentance, and raise our eyes to heaven. In Romans 8:28-29 the Bible says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (NIV) God redeems the brokenness of this life as we identify with Christ through it and allow it to make us more dependent upon God.
God is not pleased with evil. Nor will He allow it to continue unchecked forever. In Revelation 21:1-5 we read that God has promised to wipe away every tear, that a day is coming when Jesus shall return, destroy the present brokenness that sin brought into this world, and establish His Kingdom in perfection. We are not without hope. While we do not know when this will occur, it is has long been the blessed hope of the Church and a foundational truth for countless believers.
The Bible is the very most consistent when it comes to our experience of tragedy and pain in this world and an explanation for it which offers hope and meaning. Consider that no other system of theology or philosophy adequately deals with the problem of pain and evil; man’s utter inability to manage his relationships apart from violence, cruelty and dissatisfaction. We all sense that there is a problem, that this world is somehow not what it ought to be. The fall in the Garden of Eden still echoes in the chambers of every heart. Only the Bible explains where our proclivity to destroy ourselves comes from in terms which also offer hope and are consistent with our experience of reality. The Bible passes the correspondence test of truth.
What it says corresponds with our experience of the world around us.
Pilgrim Pastor... Surrounded by evil, suffering, sorrow... filled with love, light, hope!