We Sometimes Misunderstand the Nature of ‘Love’
A transcendent God understands that ‘love’ is the perfect balance between mercy and justice. We, as humans, often hold a very temporal understanding of love; we think of love as a warm, instantaneous feeling, a lustful desire, or a passionate season of romance. But God understands that true love transcends the moment and often requires discernment, discipline and judgment. We could hardly say we loved our children if we didn’t care enough about their future to discipline them, and discipline often feels painful. Love sometimes requires a concern for justice that focuses on the future, and justice often requires the infliction of pain and suffering to achieve the greater good. God, therefore, may allow some level of pain and suffering to maintain the just and transcendent character of ‘love’.
So, how can a loving all-powerful God allow pain and suffering? The same way a loving father can allow his infant child to suffer the doctor’s needle. From the child’s perspective, the shot is terribly painful and unwanted, but the father knows that the pain of the injection will result in something beneficial to the infant. The father also knows he is acting in love, even though a painless day (from the child’s perspective) might seem like a more loving approach. Finally, the father knows that the pain of the injection is fleeting relative to the life of the child. For these reasons, it is reasonable to surmise that a good, loving God might allow pain and suffering in our own lives as well.