So for five years, I was mostly an atheist until I heard about Deism near the end of the five years. I studied that for a little while and felt comfortable that Deism was a better explanation for the universe than Carl Sagan could offer, but it also provided the answer why there was pain and suffering in my life. It didn't make me like God any better, just answered some nagging questions about existence. I was a devout Deist. God left me alone and I left Him alone.
First of all, you do realize that there is pain and suffering in everyones life. Obviously some end up having more of both than others do, but it is a fairly normal thing.
My question is this: Why do you think there has to be a specific reason for it? Outside of what is natural, or cultural, or individually generated? Why do you think there has to be some central cause (evil) rather than an assortment of causes, some of which can be amplified by cruel or careless humans?
I have never understood this aspect of christianity. To think that without a central cause that nothing bad would be happening on earth is patently silly. We have earthquakes, a**holes, accidents, selfishness, inebriating substances, sexual tensions and two or three other trouble-producing sources, and to think that as natural being we would automatically be immune to these things seems incredibly naïve. As natural (vs. god-built) beings, there are no controls in nature or anywhere else in the universe to always protect us from it or ourselves.
When making up a reason makes the bad stuff seem more understandable, you are adding delusion as yet another source of pain.
I was at a funeral for a neighbor a number of years ago. She had died at 82 of lung cancer. Her daughter was very distraught, and kept wailing "Why, why, why God!". Well, her mom was old and had smoked since she was 12. But the daughter had to add a god-based puzzlement to her grief, and I'll never see any advantage to mixing fact and fiction.
In a natural world, why would you expect us to be immune to pain and suffering? What aspect of evolution do you think would protect us. What part of stars blowing up and asteroids crashing down seems inherently cute? Do you honestly expect volcanoes to limit the heat of their lava to under 100° so as to avoid serious burns? For earthquakes to emulate a bowl full of jello? Floods to be only an inch deep? Religion-crazed rebels with AK-47's to shoot blanks? Passionately angry lovers to follow all the safety rules while slashing out with a butcher knife? Cancer asking if it can play in your liver for just a couple of days if it promises not to hurt anything?
I can't imagine a reason in the world why everything that goes wrong should be considered abnormal and hence proof of an evil force lurking amongst us. In fact, it would take a world where nothing went wrong that would convince me that a higher power exists. One where normal includes bad stuff is just what I would expect. And it is exactly what we have.
Edit: My usual f**k-ups, plus some more later.