The problem of evil in the world is challenging; we recognize pain and suffering exists — bad things happen — and we often describe this as (empirical or natural) evil. And if we’re thoughtful, we also recognize we all do things we ought not — we do wrong: when people deeply and willfully violate the universal moral standard of human conduct, we call such behavior (moral) evil. If God can prevent evil and does not, or if God Himself actually causes evil, we have difficulty understanding how God can also be just, good and loving.
First, there’s a difference between saying God allows evil, and saying God causes evil. There’s also a difference between saying God causes human suffering, and saying God causes people to be morally corrupt and wicked.
The Bible clearly states God creates evil (Is 45:7), but the immediate context doesn’t tell us what kind of evil God creates. Does God cause people to be wicked, to break His Law, or does He merely cause some (or all) human suffering?
Scripture tells us plainly God often causes human suffering: He punishes Israel when she breaks His laws (De 28:21-22) and He chastens those He loves. (He 12:5-6) His motive is always good (Ps 145:17): God punishes evil righteously (Ps 9:7-8), and He chastens His children to cause them to be holy. (He 12:10, Ps 119:75) He does not cause all human suffering (Lk 13:16), but He does ordain all of it for His purposes. (Ge 50:20, Ep 1:11)
But scripture does not clearly state God causes people to be wicked; rather, God says He doesn’t even tempt us to do evil (Ja 1:13), much less cause us to be evil; people are wicked all on their own. (14) This is the fact of Free Will: God allows us to sin against Himself and each other. (Ro 1:24-26) In fact, unless God restrains us from being evil (Ps 19:13), evil is the default human condition (Ep 2:1-3, Mt 7:11) and it’s been this way ever since the Fall of Man. (Ge 6:5)
The alternative is a God Who actually causes us to do evil and then punishes us for doing what He makes us do. (Ro 2:8-9) God might indeed be so, in theory anyway, but I’d need to confess I know nothing at all of His moral character, having lost all hope I ever could.