"Why would God allow the innocent to suffer?"
"Why do bad things happen to good people?"
"If evil exists and God created everything, then doesn't it mean that God is evil since he created evil?"
According to the Tradition of the Church, God created the human race with something called Free Will. The reason we were given free will is because we are meant to love. If you cannot choose not to love, then the whole concept of Love is impossible. I'm not talking about the emotion or collection of emotions that people think love is. Love, in this case, is not an emotion. Here, we are using the Catholic definition of love. In so doing, we find that love persists in spite of emotion. If you can't choose against love, then love itself really doesn't exist... because it's a choice. So, in order for God to create a being that could love, he also had to give it the choice NOT to love. Choice is necessary for love to exist.
If that doesn't sound natural to you, this shouldn't sound natural either: The force that gives you the ability to stack one brick on top of another is also the force that causes bricks to fall. To take away the force that causes the brick to fall, you are also taking away the force that allows it to be stacked. Essentially, if you were to decide to remove the force that endangers a man of being hit by falling bricks in order to keep him safe, you would also be taking away his ability to build anything at all.
When the bricks sturdily tower above us, we praise gravity. When the bricks fall, we curse it. But in either circumstance, nothing we do would be possible without it.
Choice, by this standard, is to gravity as love is to a sturdy and towering structure of bricks.
So if we have the Choice not to love God, what is the alternative?
There is no alternative. God is life and that means that the alternative is death. Many people see this as some kind of unfair and cruel punishment, but the world demonstrates to us every day that this is not the case. There is no precedent for that kind of an assumption in the natural world. When you want to turn a lamp off, do you find it unfair or cruel that the room will become dark if you do so? There are only two choices. Light and dark. Light is the only thing that can dispel darkness because darkness is really only the absence of light. Just as death is really just the absence of life. So if you choose to reject life... guess what... There's nothing cruel about it. Its just the way it is.
To illustrate this point further, imagine that you are in the middle of a freezing ocean, hypothermia is setting in and you aren't a very good swimmer in the first place. You are going to die. Now imagine that a man in a boat comes along and offers to let you into his boat in order that you might have life. At this point, would you get in the boat, or would you curse this person saying, "Why do I have to get in your boat?! Why can't I get in a different boat?!" If you did, the man in the boat might say something like, "There is only one boat here. My boat."
After hearing him say this would you then say, "So if I don't let you save me, you are going to let me drown?! That's cruel! That's tyranny!"
I think its safe to say that a reaction like this is kind of silly, although, every day, we react this way to the idea that Christ is the only thing that can save us from death. Forget about whether or not we believe Christ is real for now. We reject the very possibility that He could be real, or that He could be Good if He is real, often based purely on the fact that He says He's the only way. We feel like there should be alternatives if we are even to consider the possibility of His existence... We want the lamp to be off, but we don't want it to be dark. As if the fact that there is only one lifeboat completely negates any sense in considering that we might actually need it to survive. It's like getting angry at someone who offers you a ride because you have to get in his car instead of being given a variety of choices of cars to get into or maybe even getting to design your own car. Somehow, we quickly forget that we are stranded on the side of a remote road with no other hope to get home.
If I build a house in the desert and invite you inside to survive the empty death on the outside, does this make me a tyrant because I didn't build twenty houses and let you choose which one you want to survive in?
I can't recall even one time that I found it unfair that someone would tell me that there was only one door to get to the bathroom. And I've never tried to make the argument that I should be able to use any door that I want because all doors lead to the same bathroom. In the real world, these lines of thought simply don't work.
In similar fashion of thought, is it God who sends us to Hell as a punishment? Or is it us who just refuse to let him save us from it while we blame Him for the whole predicament in the first place. Is your drowning in the ocean the fault of the man in the boat who you refused to allow to save you?
If we were prevented from the consequences of our choices, this would actually be a violation of the promises of free will. God doesn't break promises. If I try to get to the bathroom through the door to the kitchen, guess where I end up.
Did God create evil?
Einstein would tell you that Evil is really just the absence of God. Just as cold is only the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light. So can it be said that God created evil? Or rather that God dispels evil. Is the function of a light bulb to create darkness or to dispel darkness? The light bulb can only create light. Dark is only the nothing that is there when the light bulb is off. Remove the lamp from the room entirely, and the darkness is still there. The lamp has nothing to do with the production darkness. Darkness is nothing. It doesn't need to be created because it is the absence, not the presence. And an evil creature is a creature who has chosen the nothing over the everything. This is why we often refer to evil as darkness. And you'll die there as surely as you'll die in the absence of heat and light and food and water.
Now, this is starting to get us a little closer to the point I am really trying to make.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Neo put it pretty simply when he said, "Choice. The problem is choice."
The purpose of our existence is dependent on free will. Free will is the choice we have between good and evil, light and dark, life and death, right and wrong. If God were to prevent an innocent person from being murdered, God would have to infringe upon the free will of the murderer. When this happens, though the innocent person may live, their choice to BE innocent is rendered meaningless and the lives of both individuals is rendered pointless as neither of them is capable of choosing to love without the freedom to also choose against it.
Human beings can only be so evil as the incredible potential they have to choose goodness.
Human beings can only hate because they were given the choice to love.
Human beings only die because they had the chance to live in the first place.
But why do we die at all?
Christianity pretty much agrees that death entered the universe because our ancestors, one way or another, chose not to love God. If even for a moment, they chose death and this changed the universe for the rest of us. So, all the circumstances in the universe, as we know it today, are resultant from and necessary for the existence of free will. This is where I would expect to be asked, "Why are we being punished for something that our ancestors did." The only proper answer I can think of is that the reason we and all the universe are effected by their actions is the same reason an innocent baby can inherit a horrible disease from its mother. The same reason that an heir can inherit an estate. If we are to be capable of inheriting life from others, we must also be capable of inheriting death. If we couldn't, then we would not be able to inherit anything.
But never forget about hope. God became one of us, did the things we do, lived a life like we do, died a death like we do. In so doing, even the simplest of our actions can be sacred in that God himself has done them. Our poverty, our suffering, our happiness, our sickness, our health, the persecutions we endure, the simple works of our hands, the things that we make, the words that we speak, our meager prayers, and even our deaths can now be united with His. He did these things and so, when we do them in Him, they are sacred things. Our lives offered upon the altar of the world. From Him we inherit eternal life.
And how could we ever have done that if it weren't possible in the first place to inherit death.
If the brick cannot fall, then it also cannot be stacked.
If you really can't stand the lamp, you'll have to be content with reading in the dark.