A brief note on pain and suffering.
I'll start with saying I know suffering. I know suffering that lasts for years. I know physical pain. I know emotional pain.
Pain hurts. Yes.
But the assumption that if we experience pain and suffering in this life, that shows that God is either bad or doesn't love us, is false.
There are times when parents give pain to their children in the hopes that this pain will give them some measure of future benefit, for example when giving vaccines or dental fillings. A child being forced to eat broccoli when he wants candy may feel like Mommy is mean.
Here's an example from a book by Lee Strobel. A bear gets stuck in a trap.
A person who finds the bear and wants to help the bear may want to pry the trap off (painful), shoot the bear with a tranquilizer dart (painful), or forcibly restrain the bear (painful, scary) in order to remove the trap that would lead to its demise.
The bear would perceive these attempts to help as attacks and see the human as an enemy.
As the bear is limited in its understanding of what the man is wanting to do to help it, so we are limited in our understanding, very much MORE so, in our understanding of God's action or apparent inaction in our lives here on earth.
To think that pain and suffering could be for our good, for our benefit, in ways that we can't see from our temporal vantage point, is often a thought we avoid when we are suffering.
How could this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? I don't deserve this! He/she doesn't deserve that! God must not care at all!
Those are more common thoughts that I myself have had when in pain or watching someone I care about in pain.
If we look at the cross, where Jesus took the most unimaginable tortuous suffering on Himself for you and me, we can be assured that God does have our best interests in mind, that He does love us!!
Yes, it's hard to trust when life hurts. It's hard when you lose someone you love. It's hard when you're in so much physical pain that you feel like you can't bear it, that it will literally kill you.
But I can say that the pain I've experienced in my life has ultimately been good for me. Sometimes I don't know how or see it, but sometimes I do.
One small way that pain has helped form me is that it gives me more compassion towards others who are hurting. It makes me want to help other people who might be hurting.
Sometimes we need pain to stop us from sinning. We might be going down a wrong path, doing things God tells us not to do, and ignoring what God has to say. Continuing down this path could wreak havoc on the lives of many people, and cause a lot of pain to a lot of people. So experiencing personal pain as a result of wrongdoing can be discipline to lead us to repent from sin and turn back to God and do what He says, even when it's not what we feel like doing.
Pain is not the ultimate enemy.
God wants to save us from eternal destruction and spare us from joining the devil in hell for eternity in the lake of fire.
Pain can often be a method that is used to that end, the ultimate saving of souls.
There is so much we don't understand, but we have the evidence to see that God does love us and that we can trust Him completely.