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IslamQA: If God loves us, why does He allow us to suffer?

Lately this hasn’t been making sense to me - I am at a low place in my life where I have no emotional relationships at all and I don’t feel needed/wanted. So when I turn to Islamic advice, I keep reading things along the lines of “You need to pray more because you need God, God doesn’t need you” and I find that even more depressing? How can God not need me at all yet love me more than my own mother? I don’t understand how I’m suppose to increase my worship knowing that I am insignificant to Him

Sorry to read about your situation. When it is said that God does not need you, it is to impress upon you your utter dependence on Him. All goodness and happiness comes from God and we as insignificant servants of Him have to utterly submit to Him and rely on Him to take away our hardships. God does not need us and can destroy all of humanity in an instant if He wished. When you take this fact to heart, you recognize that God is not like a parent who will love you regardless of what you do. Instead, God is like a mentor who is forgiving toward those who repent to Him, so the proper way to relate to Him is through obedience.

We are social creatures. It is very depressing to be isolated and feel like you are not wanted. Your Islamic belief cannot magically cure this–there is no way to make God replace the importance of your relationships with humans except for a very small minority of people who attain a high spiritual status and are able to make God the center of their lives. For most people, for their own mental health it is essential that they are surrounded by good and loving people. Since you do not have this in your life, the correct path is to acknowledge your depression and recognize that for it to be taken away there is a need for your situation to change. Your solution is patience while the difficulty lasts, while relying on God to change your situation.

Narrated `Abdullah: I visited Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) while he was suffering from a high fever. I said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! You have a high fever." He said, "Yes, I have as much fever as two men of you." I said, "Is it because you will have a double reward?" He said, "Yes, it is so. No Muslim is afflicted with any harm, even if it were the prick of a thorn, but that Allah expiates his sins because of that, as a tree sheds its leaves." (Sahih al-Bukhari 5648)

The above also applies to psychological suffering. It is a chance for your sins to be forgiven and for you to earn the rewards of patience. There is no fun, joy or glory in psychological suffering. We seem to suffer needlessly while God watches on, doing nothing to help us. But remember that the Prophet suffered years of hardship, loss and failure at the beginning of his prophethood. Why did God allow this? God could have given him instant success and relief if He had wished. The answer is that suffering helps prove our character. How can we claim to be truly submissive toward God and truly patient if God always solves our problems for us? The best people you meet in your life are people who suffered greatly but who found a way to hold onto God until God took the suffering away.

Please see my following essay where I expand more on the purpose of suffering: Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide

And God knows best.
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