The Geulah process is compared to the birth of a child, and the troubles we currently experience are the birthpangs - the difficulties that will be'H bring about the final redemption.
I was recently thinking about some interesting parallels that this idea leads us to.
For the last few months of pregnancy, the average baby enters a position with its head down and feet up. If it is not in this position, it is quite dangerous for baby and mother, and is referred to as 'breach.' A baby in breach position will many times necessitate a Caesarean section. In a normal case, however, the head is down, in position to exit first, and the baby is thus born.
I would posit that this is why when we look at the world today, the values are backwards - the head - which is the intellect and the spiritual - is on bottom. Spirituality is disdained by much of the world, and the feet - the physical and mundane - is on the rise and enthroned. This is a necessary state for the birth to take place.
Another key point is that when a mother is in the final stages of labor, she experiences acute pain. This pain can be alleviated by taking an epidural, which basically numbs the entire area. If the epidural is too strong, however, the woman will have a very difficult time knowing when her contraction takes place in order to push the baby out.
This would seem to indicate that although be'H Moshiach can and will come with the least amount of pain - with Rachamim - there is a certain amount of difficulty the world may have to endure. If not for this pain, the 'baby,' i.e. Geulah, can take significantly longer. The pain is also a sign for us that the Geulah is indeed near, just as the pain intensifies for the woman who is immediately before childbirth.
A third point that I think is most powerful, is that the child, as long as it is in utero, resides in a world that is completely dark. All of its needs are taken care of, but it is completely unaware from where its sustenance comes. The fetus does not even dream that there is a world of light just outside its little bubble. It could believe that the reality it experiences is truly all there is.
The moment the baby is born, its life supply is cut! But at that very moment it realizes that all along it was being provided for by this mother, and the baby returns to be nourished again, but now with full knowledge of where its sustenance comes from.
We too live in this darkness of the womb, where it is most difficult to see that all our sustenance, and indeed all that occurs, comes from Hashem. We would think that the reality we sense with our physical senses is all that there is, and that things run their natural course. But at the moment of birth, we will exit the current reality and enter the light of the true reality. We will realize how all along it was Hashem who sustained us and gave us the power to succeed. We will be drawn to our Creator to enjoy the 'milk' - which is His Torah, which truly sustains us; and we will enjoy that ecstasy that comes with the knowledge that He was with us all along - throughout the darkness.
We will know that the difficulty we experienced was a labor of love bringing us to the moment of Moshiach and closeness to Hashem.