Okay, I have a thought that has been coming together in my head and I am going to attempt to share it. Hopefully I make some sense. :)
At this point in my life, I don't think I believe in a sentient god who watches over and designs our lives. However, the question of "Why would God let bad things happen" is one that is often put forth. Even if there is no god/s, why do bad things happen? Just by random chance?
I would like to put forth the theory that we need problems, troubles, antogonists...we draw them to us.
Think about a video game. Let's take the old Donkey Kong. What if there was no big ape throwing barrels at you? What if all you had to do was mosey up the ramp and save the princess? How interesting would that game be? Would people have spent hours playing it? Of course not! It would have been boring to win so easily. We want challenge and as soon as we master that challenge, we want a harder or new challenge to master. This is the basis of all video games.
Think about sports. What if you played baseball by hitting the ball and then going around the bases, but no one ever tried to stop you and there were no outs. Everyone just took their turn hitting the ball and running the bases. Again, I just don't think the game would hold people's interest. We crave a project, a problem, an antagonist...something to best, something to overcome.
Now, let's apply these thoughts to our lives. I think just as we crave challenge in our play, we crave it in our lives. When life becomes too easy, we seek more. I think life/god/we bring problems and trouble into our lives to help us continue to learn and grow. If there is a God, he is sending lessons. If it is just life, then we are finding lessons.
Finally, I think our need to learn and grow sometimes gets misdirected....we don't realize how to feed the need and so turn to drugs/sex/gossip/drama/violence/fast-living which whips itself up into a cycle that can be hard to get off. If instead we would just try to honestly look at ourselves and find what our uniqueness is and not be afraid to be it...to explore who we are fully. If we work on honing our positive traits and try to understand our problem areas, we would go a long way toward inner peace.
The soul longs to learn and play.