My friend AY sent me this quote today, from C.S. Lewis' book, The Problem of Pain. It has gotten me thinking, and I am keen to read the whole book. It sounds like a good place to answer some of my questions.
The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word 'love', and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man.