The existence of suffering is what leads some people to become atheists. They can’t imagine how God could allow suffering to occur. This is a real dilemma, with no great answer. Other than to say that we need to look deeper into the meaning of suffering.
I think there’s a message in suffering. That as real as suffering may seem, it’s actually an illusion. Or that it’s a temporary means to a better end. In other words, the suffering still occurs — we experience the pain, but it’s not the ultimate reality. That it pales in comparison to the ultimate reality.
This doesn’t mean that God takes pleasure in our suffering or that God is indifferent. God may actually experience the pain with us for a greater purpose.
We already know that physical pain is an illusion. Our nervous system is what causes us to experience the sensation of pain. Where there are no pain receptors, there is no pain. The brain, for example, has no pain receptors. A neurosurgeon could poke and cut your brain, but you wouldn’t feel a thing.
And at the same time, the brain is what interprets pain, via signals from other parts of the body where pain receptors are present.
Many things in this life are an illusion. Sound, for example. It doesn’t actually exist. Sound is an interpretation. Sound is actually a vibration. That vibration is interpreted by our eardrums and our brain as sound. If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? No. It makes a vibration.
Even molecules, which everything is made of, are an interpretation of a deeper reality. Those molecules are made up of atoms and those atoms are made up of even smaller particles. And those sub-atomic particles only behave like particles when we experience them via our nervous system.
Quantum Theory tells us that their true nature is actually a “wave function”. Their true nature is not “material”. We only experience it that way. (Biocentrism is a good resource if you want to read more about this.)
We have no idea what that “wave function” actually is. All we know is that the true nature of reality isn’t what we experience through our natural senses. Our nervous system is interpreting reality in a particular way that makes sense to us and that is useful to us.
This doesn’t take into account our intuition, or mystical/spiritual interpretations of reality. Many people in science would be quick to write off such experiences as mere delusions. Some “spiritual” experiences are delusions, but even our experience of the natural world itself is a type of delusion.
Dreams, are also a type of delusion. But they can still be true. Who’s to say that what we experience as spiritual insight is always delusional and not sometimes merely a different way of interpreting reality?