Yes, a very profound and difficult question. IF I am honest, I think I have seen far too many on either side of the aisle make God out to be something he is not. The relation of God to the bad things that happen is more nuanced than we are comfortable with. We want it to be well, He is either this, or He is that.
In so many ways I agree with you, we must make sure we dont make God out to be the “bad” guy or be inconsistent with his perfect nature. But I also think our understanding of him is not perfect because we are flawed.
Here is what I mean.
Lets take Job for a second. God initiates the whole thing. God then gives Satan permission to only do what God gives him permission to do. It appears that Satan is like a dog on a leash. God gives him enough rope to hang himself and thwart whatever he was trying to accomplish. But God was in control of the entire situation. Wouldn’t the most loving thing do be, not brining up this little test trail with Satan?? Or maybe not.
And what about Joseph? God literally has his hand in the whole thing but its an utter misery for him for years and years… only to see that God planned to save the nation of Israel through him.
In his divine justice God also sent the plagues and death angel into Egypt. God did, not satan.
Then we get to the New Testament.
John 9, disciples ask Jesus “why is this guy blind, because of his sin or his parents?” Christ says, neither, He is blind so that the work of God could be displayed in his life. Wait a second, put yourself into the shoes of this blind guy. So God is ok with you being blind your whole life so that when Jesus does meet him, God can be glorified?? Thats hard to digest initially.
Lastly, ananias and saphira. God literally strikes them dead because they lied about the money they got for selling their property.
And honestly there are plenty more hard passages where it is hard to know what is Gods role.
But I dont give you these examples to undermine your understanding, I want you to see why its more of a complex issue. Like I said, its more nuanced.
Here is my approach to it, I know there are three things out there that are my enemies - the flesh, the world and the enemy of our souls. As a Christian, I am no longer at enmity with God, but these three things are always at play. Where is God’s role in it all? I am not sure we have the ability of pinpointing each time.
But here is the greatest news. God is sovereign over all of it. God is not at the mercy fo my flesh, the world or satan. God is all powerful, all loving, but also All Just.
I can Trust a sovereign God when things dont make sense because I know that he works all things out for good for those who love him and do his will. I dont have to worry about what Gods role is in it all, I can trust that regardless he is Good even when it doesnt seem like it.
If God planned, and had his hand in the worst thing that ever happened in history of humanity (christ dying on the cross), it tells me that he is able to be WHOLY good even when it seems like He isnt.
The CROSS is the answer. Where is God? Right there in the middle of it, taking it all on to show that He truly does love us and that we can trust him even if we think his inaction or action is wrong. HE is never wrong, but we often are.
Honestly this is a discussions that Christians have been having for millennia. My challenge to myself is to dont just come to God with my understanding of what I want him to be, come to Him in all He shows himself to be within scripture. He is far more beautifully complex and divine than we can imagine. But again regardless of where you stand on this issue, both parties have to come to see that because of the Cross his goodness and love for us is clearly on display. This example is too wonderful to undermine.
I hope this makes sense. Like I said, I agree with you in so many ways. But its a complex subject and I think there is a reason why it isnt easy to come to a clear conclusion.