There was an interesting discussion a couple of days ago at my place. It was regarding how one has to pay for one's deeds or karma in this lifetime itself. At least that's what my dad and I felt. Whereas my mom and hubby stuck to our Vedic philosophy that we pay for our karma in the next life. So, if we are facing trouble in the current life, its payback for our misdeeds in our past lifetime. The other caveat is that if there is to be payback of our deeds, then we do not get another life as a human being immediately. We have to pass through the cycle of other lesser lifeforms and only when the soul resumes life as a human being are the past misdeeds paid back through troubles and travails faced.
Mom's argument was that this was the only way good people undergoing tough problems could be explained away. That they were paying for their past life's misdeeds. Mom cited the example of King Dashrath from Ramayana. He had inadvertently killed Shravana, the only son of blind parents in his youth. The parents had cursed him that he too would die while desperately waiting to meet his beloved son. That is what happened to him when his oldest son - Rama, was sent to exile by his favorite wife for 14 years. Dashrath died while waiting for his son's return.
Perhaps it is true- many times it beats us why some thoroughly noble souls around us are suffering so much. Which of the above arguments is true was inconclusive. It is true that God moves in mysterious ways. And man being what he is, cannot just accept the inscrutability of God. Hence, he has come up with various theories. In my humble opinion, all these theories are simply to enhance man's faith in a higher power. For, when one is down in the doldrums, it is only faith and positive thoughts that help one survive until better times prevail.
Perhaps, there are no such things as good and bad actions. And hence there is no payback required for bad deeds. The only punishment(or reward) of a deed(good or bad) is how it makes you feel afterward. If one feels guilty or repentant after a deed, then that is punishment enough for that action. Even if the feeling is not immediate, it does catch up with us eventually. If one feels upbeat and light after a deed, then that is reward enough. Thus, it is very important to reconcile with one's conscience- one needs to constantly watch that one's conscience is in sync with one's actions. Only then will there be peace and happiness.