If G-d loves His people, why does He allow them to suffer for so long in exile?
G-d "hides His face" to arouse His people to return to Him.
This question has haunted Jewish thinkers and sages throughout the ages. How do we reconcile the biblically established fact that we are G-d's chosen people with our long history of exile and persecution?
There is a verse in the Torah in which G-d speaks of a period in which the Jews will break their covenant with Him: "Then my anger will burn against them... and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them."
However, it only appears that G-d has forsaken His people. In truth, G-d is constantly with us and feels our pain in exile. In the words of the prophet (Isaiah 63:9), "In all their distress, He is distressed."
The ultimate reason for which G-d "hides His face" is to arouse His people to return to Him. G-d has a constant and deep love for His people, regardless of their behavior.
R. Schneur Zalmen of Liadi likens this to the case of a son, whose father hides his face from him to make the son more aware of his own love for his father. Although G-d's face is hidden from us and we do not sense His presence in a revealed way, G-d nevertheless is present in exile together with us. Therefore, there is no room for despair in the face of the long exile. In the words of Psalms, "G-d is your guardian; G-d is your protective shade at your right hand." Ultimately, G-d is as much in need of the redemption as we are, and He will bring the redemption for His own sake.