"I don't particularly think God wants us to be happy. I think he wants us to love and be loved, I think he wants us to grow up" - Anthony Hopkins portraying C.S. Lewis in "Shadowlands"
In Romans 8:17 St. Paul states that we will share in Christ's glory if we share in his sufferings. It has been one of the most difficult lessons in my life (that I still haven't really learned), that God does not want me to be happy. He wants me to be like him. He wants me to be Holy because he is Holy. This is a painful process almost exactly like growing up - intrinsically tied to growing up for me.
I said to a friend tonight (I shocked myself when I said it) - I thank God that he doesn't answer all of my prayers, if he did, I'd never have matured a bit. I need to keep that attitude, it's not health and wealth God is promoting, it's taking up your cross and following him. But at the same time, we find true joy in being like Christ. St. Paul was so celebratory in prison it's amazing, he knew that suffering produced endurance, and character, which produces hope. And he also says in Romans 8 that we are saved by hope and in hope (sorry sola fideists j/k).
This is something I've talked about alot in terms of purgatory so I won't touch on that doctrine.
In the movie Shadowlands, there's a scene where C.S. Lewis' wife who has cancer is getting well again and his friend says "we all know how much you've been praying, God is answering your prayers" and C.S. Lewis looks at the priest who said it and says "I pray because I can't help it, I pray because it flows out of me, it doesn't change God, it changes me". I was angry the other day about things going poorly and how silent God seemed in my life, and it made me pray in true repentance (which is a rare grace) and I felt so much better. It wasn't that God had shown himself, it was that I realized I had no claim on him. I deserved nothing from him and that I should grow up and realize that this is how you mature, that he is there, whether I feel it or not, because he says so, and he can't lie.
So hopefully in every pain in life I will become more spiritually mature.
I have a feeling I've written identical posts to this many times already, but I guess I don't learn alot.