That question had always bothered me as a young boy.
Later when I was in Navy flight training the question came back in spades. Almost weekly we would lose another Aviation Midshipman, somebody we knew well, mainly through mid-air collisions. I raged against God when Al Chorbajian, my fraternity brother and good buddy, lost control of his aircraft and couldn't bail out. At the time I know we didn't dwell on these deaths. We couldn't afford to. We had to keep our concentration intact. Later, when I was discharged and was going back to school, I fully acknowledged my sorrow, and anger at God for letting so many good men die.
Mnay years later, I was engineering manager at one of GE's product departments in Pittsfield, MA. One snowy Friday evening in February about 9:30 pm, I received a call from Bob Sessions, a friend who was manufacturing manager at another department. A Mohawk Airlines commuter plane from New York had crashed on its approach to Albany airport. All on board were killed, including my next-door neighbor, colleague, and good friend Dave Herder, my colleague and neighbor across the street Dean Haywood, and my former boss and mentor Tony Gizzi. Remembering that weekend now still brings back tears.
This time I really raged against God and literally yelled out "How could you let this happen? So many good people are untimely dead. Their wives and children are left behind without a husband and father." I was filled with sorrow and anger.
Suddenly I felt a hand grab my shoulder hard, and a voice roared "You dumbo. Haven't you heard of pilot error? I didn't crash that plane. The pilot did. I made you all and I love you all. But I also gave all of you the great gift of free will. Each of you has to take responsibility for running your own piece of the world. What I do best is listen to you when you remember to talk to me. That way I can lift you up, sustain you, and help you do your best."
"Yes, and I've heard you blame me for sending Jesus to the cross. You just can't believe what that cost me in terms of pain and suffering. But my Son and I knew that was about the only way we could get you stiff-necked people on Earth to pay attention to our message. It was my great gift to you for time eternal."
In that moment I did finally reach understanding. And I received a bed-rock foundation to my faith.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." ...John 3:16