I really have a hard time when I watch the news and see how the Lord seems to allow innocent people (especially children) to suffer needlessly. I cried when I watched 20/20 one night and they told how the Cambodian soldiers would throw babies in the air, and they would catch them on the end of their bayonets all just for sport. Do they suffer or are their spirits taken to heaven before they are allowed to suffer? Can you please help me understand this?
Satan’s plan was to save every individual. And surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor (Moses 4:1). Satan’s plan would have robbed man of his free agency and therefore negated the purpose of mortality. Agency is one of the greatest gifts of God to man. Only through the free exercise thereof can man ever grow to the stature of his Father in Heaven.
So man has his agency. We live in a wicked world; in fact we live in the most wicked of all worlds. The Lord said to Enoch on one occasion,
Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren (Moses 7:36).
With both agency and wickedness in the world, unspeakably bad things do occur. If God were to intervene and prevent all bad things from happening, he would have to rob men of their agency and thus frustrate the great plan of happiness. When considering the wickedness in the world, it would be well to keep two things in mind-
1) The innocent who suffer will be recompensed for their suffering, such that it will accrue to their good. Little children who are put to death will inherit the glory of the celestial kingdom-a recommpense far greater than the suffering that they had to endure. The Lord has said this:
Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord (D&C 98:3).
2) The guilty, unless they fully repent, will pay the full price to the demands of an eternal justice for all the their wrong doing.
Therefore I command you to repent-repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore-how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not (D&C 19:15).