"the children's cancer ward at your local hospital. why must children suffer? if it's to bring others to see the greatness of God, what a horrible, selfish being God must be."
A world without suffering... Sounds great doesn't it? One without disease, death. One without torture. You said the children's cancer ward, you ever seen what children in the burn ward go through?
To answer your question about the way the world is right now. About why bad things happen to "good" people (I use air quotes because "good" people don't exist). The answer is, it's what we wanted. It's what we chose. If you believe in God, and I'll go a step further, if you believe in the Bible, this was the choice made in the Garden of Eden. It wasn't meant to be this way. In giving man a choice (and not making him an automaton), this is what man chose.
So now we reap the repercussions of our choice. We try to find ways to undo, to fix, to make better.
Because God wasn't selfish, we got a choice. We, the "human goodness" people. We are the selfish ones.