My pal Dave has an entirely different approach to the whole suffering thing. For him, the question is not “Why does God allow me to suffer?” Rather, it’s “If God himself has to suffer, what makes me think I’m so special as to get a pass? We are, after all, talking about the worship of a crucified God who warned us that those who would walk in his footsteps must likewise carry a cross.” Dave thinks that’s going to involve Christ’s followers in a spot of bother now and then.
That sort of thinking, though it probably accounts for why Dave will never be a pastor, is well-grounded in his work as an historian of 20th Century Eastern Europe and has stood me in good stead in my own times of suffering. The option has never been “Shall we suffer?” The option has always and only ever been “Shall our suffering be a doorway to heaven—or not?”
I suspect that many—indeed most—people who think they disbelieve in God are really just angry at him. It’s hard to believe he loves you when you are suffering great pain or loss. […] Attempting to get rid of him by an act of anti-faith will not make the hurting stop: It will merely make it meaningless. With him, the suffering can do more than mean something: it becomes the prelude to our glorious resurrection in the Victor over death.