Except for times when I get a little overwhelmed, such as when I read the list I referred to in my last blog, I don't have too much of a problem reconciling a loving God with the all the pain in this world. If I ever do lose my faith I doubt that it will be due to encountering a lot of suffering.
The question. "How can a loving God allow so much pain?" has more than one valid response. For one thing it is a little bit arbitrary to say that God allows too much suffering. We're then setting the standard. Who's to say that God doesn't already prevent worse suffering?
A more convincing argument, I feel, is that we're mistaken when we say God is doing nothing. We want supernatural intervention but God seems to prefer using people to accomplish his will. The Christian theology is that God sent his son to die in order to right all the wrongs on Earth. So we can say that God doesn't prevent suffering the way that we would like, but we can't say that he doesn't do anything about it. He already has started the road to redemption in a most unexpected and amazing manner.
One other thing about pain and suffering is that it can also be seen as an opportunity. If for the sake of this argument you'll let me assume that Christianity is true, then it makes a lot of sense that God will allow some pain to occur. Jesus said that Christians should be recognized by their love for each other, as in helping those in need. Charitable acts are considered one of the best ways to "encounter" God and it also helps those in need so really it's a win win situation. Without any pain there's no way that people could understand their need for God. Helping a suffering person is truly a rewarding experience for all parties involve. I think this is a principle reason that God allows suffering, it enables humans to experience his love and also to demonstrate it. Suffering is a window to grace and love.
This started as an email response to Lowenfels' comment on my previous blog but I thought that I would post it instead because it's a subject that I've thought about blogging about for quite some time.