Why does a loving and an all-powerful God allow human suffering?
Here is an explanation I heard in Houston, Texas, and I think it has a lot of merit. It's distinctly LDS, it's very simple, and it combines several of the common theodicies.
- The Good Adversity
- The Bad Adversity
- The Ugly Adversity
The first type of adversity one might experience can be said to be "good." It is the kind of adversity that exists to strengthen the human soul. It may be a result of living in a fallen world. Just as a corollary to living we knock up against all kinds of adversity, such as natural disasters. I would add that not all people will choose to use this type of suffering as a chance to grow, but that is its purpose, and theoretically it is possible to overcome, and to learn from it.
Another type of adversity that exists in the world comes as a result of bad choices that we make. This goes along with the scripture "Wickedness never was happinesss." In general, right living leads to peace, prosperity, and happiness, while wickedness, evil, and sin will tend to cause misery and pain. Note that this principle is not the only factor leading to suffering. That is why it may appear that a righteous person is experiencing much more adversity than his/her wicked neighbor.
Ugly adversity occurs when another person's free agency conflicts with someone else's life. God allows us to make our own life choices and rarely interferes. Thus innocent humans may suffer as a result of someone's poor choices. Latter-day Saints believe passionately that free agency is a vital ingredient for attaining sanctification. Thus ugly adversity must exist, causing unneeded suffering. Why did God organize the world this way? Because without choosing freely we could never develop the qualities necessary for godhood.
Now it's your turn! Tell me what works for you and what doesn't work in the above scenario.