Welcome Doug. Good questions wrt God's involvement. I certainly don't claim to understand every "why" and "how", but IMO, if we attempt to get our answers from scripture, those are the questions, not "if". Scriptures are abundant that seem to indicate God is not "hands off" or has lost control of His universe. To say so would diminish God's sovereignty, which I realize, some attempt to do. To my understanding I say absolutely God is involved, not auto or things just taking their course as if He set it in motion, then stepped away from it. Natural disasters are part of the "present evil age" and not a permanent part of God's eternal will and nature. "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Prov 21:1). IMO, the deistic belief that God created the universe then just left it alone wouldn't fit with the whole of scripture in any sense. Exod 4:11 says, So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?"
IMO, there is a purpose for our pain, and a hope and promise that good ultimately comes from it. As Job shows, God IS in control; there is a reason and purpose behind our suffering, even if we can't figure it out. As onlytruth said, creation groans for the redemption...
If only we would take the time to first read, then meditate on these beautiful scriptures:
Job 40: 6 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said,
7"Now gird up your loins like a man;
I will ask you, and you instruct Me.
8"Will you really annul My judgment?
Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
2"Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3"Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
4"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
5Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
6"On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8"Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
10And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
11And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop'?
12"Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
14"It is changed like clay under the seal;
And they stand forth like a garment.
15"From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the uplifted arm is broken.
16"Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17"Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18"Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
19"Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
22"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?
24"Where is the way that the light is divided,
Or the east wind scattered on the earth?
25"Who has cleft a channel for the flood,
Or a way for the thunderbolt,
26To bring rain on a land without people,
On a desert without a man in it,
27To satisfy the waste and desolate land
And to make the seeds of grass to sprout?
28"Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29"From whose womb has come the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?
1Peter 1:6 begins... In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials..Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls".
Do I understand it all? Absolutely not. But IMO, when we reject things just because we don't understand them, then we begin, in our own minds, to limit God and attempt to re-create Him in our image...and He's just too big for that. And that will only be revealed to some at the sifting.
God's blessing, James.