People always say, “If G-d was benevolent, he would have created a world without pain. But the world we have is full of pain. Ergo, G-d is not a benevolent god, if He exists.”
I think this is based on a huge assumption: that pain is a bad thing.
First, I can echo C.S. Lewis by saying that pain and pleasure aren’t really all that far apart. There are a lot of things that feel good that really, when you think about it, hurt (sex being the obvious one). Eating a sour candy or ketchup-flavoured potato chips hurts. Sinking into a really hot, hot bath hurts. An aching in your muscles as you slip into bed after a day of walking hurts. And so on.
There are people in the world who don’t feel pain. We call them lepers. Leprosy attacks your body’s ability to feel pain. If you have leprosy you could easily burn your hand off on a stovetop burner, scrub your skin through to the flesh with a washcloth, or kick something hard enough to shatter your toes. In a weird way, I think the existence of lepers, people who can’t feel pain, is a stronger argument against G-d’s benevolence!
Pain has been encoded into you by billions of years of evolution. It’s vital. It lets you know when you’re fucked up. It lets you know what you should and should not, can and cannot, do. In short, it lets you know you’re alive.
I think that pain is a gift from G-d. And yeah, there are many examples of gratuitous suffering in the world, and I, like many religious people, have to resign them to that huge X-Files cabinet of mysterious ways in which He allegedly works. But me, right now, I can take my pain, my anger, my sorrow, whenever I have these things, and choose to see them as a communication from G-d.