Where is God in all of this?
There are lots of rational ways to answer the question of why God doesn’t prevent genuine evil; the sort of “bad stuff that happens” that cannot possibly have more benefit to the world than if it were thwarted.
One way is to say that some things happen and are just things we don’t like or that are necessary; birth defects, decay, random events, chronic pain, death. Ultimately, these are a result of both the order of our reality, and the chaos as well. Another word for that chaos is “freedom”. If evolution describes how it is that life is so diverse, then it isn’t appropriate to call birth defects, which are often a result of genetic issues and so on. This goes for the rest too; decay, randomness, pain, death, all part of a selective process. Is this genuine evil, given that we are its result, able to feel like we do about these states of affairs?
I don’t think so. I wouldn’t even call these necessary evils, as others do. This is simply life.
Could God have created any other sort of reality without even these “things that distress us”? I don’t know. The fact is, this is reality. All we can say is that this reality as it is, is necessarily as it, or could have been otherwise. If necessary, it’s either because God can or can’t do what he wanted to do in creating at all. On the other hand, if unnecessary, God could have done otherwise but didn’t and the reason he did is either a good reason or not.
People have looked at it many ways but they all entail an immoral God or an incompetent God.
The only logical path to take — and don’t be fooled, all of these are simply views one chooses to adopt — is saying that God cannot change anything about the world directly, phenomenally, but only sustains the existence of reality and its flow into a generally predictable future; genuine evil existing because reality entails potential because of freedom.
For sentient, social agents, there is freedom too in being able to cause genuine evil in the world.
Since this is a completely logical problem, if we took enough time and care, we could absolve God of culpability, but that’s just logic! What does that matter! Who should care?
I am convinced from all angles of life, God is not absent of the world but there is absolutely no point in time where prevents any form of evil, at all. This ought to be obvious! However, it is this sense of God “being there” especially in despair, that does effect reality. It is that “breath” that keeps us living in spite of despair. It pushes us into deciding what we’re going to do. Sometimes, this is only possible in lacking any sense of “presence” to get us to face the very same question. These are of course all theological questions and responses, but a person asking where God is in all of this is itself such a question.
Whether theological or secular, the response we all have to give is the one of what we ourselves are going to do in the face of evil. While we may sense God in a real way in those moments, we can do what God cannot; be there in a concrete, material, effective sense.
So where is God in all of this? Let’s recognize that the logical answers are completely unsatisfying. Let’s recognize that if God is going to “be there” in any sense that matters, it’s going to be from your literal “being there” in someone else’s need. Recognize finally, God’s presence may be to “get you there” and that your freedom is the source and solution to genuine evil.
Just a thought.