Someone asked this question on suffering at Christianity Stack Exchange, a site where I answer questions now and then. One of the answers to this question (given by a resident of Cape Town, South Africa) was so comprehensive regarding suffering that I thought it worth sharing his or her nine points here. This is my edited version of the answer given; you could read the original on this page.
Why is there suffering in the world?
1. The first and best answer to suffering is the free will defense, in which people are able to make choices for good or evil. God made us as free people, not robots — people who cannot do certain things are not truly free. So we endure affliction at the hands of people who use their liberty to hurt us deliberately or indirectly.
2. The ability to suffer physical pain fulfills a valuable function: it signals that our body is about to be damaged. Without it we may be incurably harmed. Many medical diseases are accompanied by pains of all kinds, and they rouse us to seek a cure before it is too late. Emotional and psychological pain can also drive us to seek help. Continue reading