Recently I taught a Sunday school lesson on the Plan of Salvation. As I began to prepare my lesson, I mistakenly thought that I would be finished in no time, because I am a returned missionary, I ?ve been a member of the Church all of my life, I was weaned on the Plan of Salvation. I knew the Plan of Salvation!. Boy, was I wrong! As I got deeper and deeper into the lesson, I felt overwhelmed by the subject and a bit impressed to focus my lesson on the mortality part of the Plan and why bad things happen to good people.
In our pre-earth life we all agreed to come to this earth. We also agreed to take the good and the bad. It was at this point that I asked myself ?how do we survive mortality? ?, until I realized that we don ?t survive mortality, just as we all chose to come to earth, we will all die. However, from the time of birth to the time of death there is much to learn, much to experience, some of it will be good and some of it will be bad.
We learn from the Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, that: The days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh, wherefore their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened according to the commandments with the Lord God gave unto the children of men ? (2 Nephi 2: 21). We also learn in Alma chapter 42 that mortality is a time to repent, that we have this time to repent so that the plan of God can be fulfilled, and that we may prepare to meet God (see Alma 42: 4–10).
So here we are, repenting, living the Gospel, doing all we can do, and should do, but we are tried, we are tested, sometimes beyond what we think we can bear. Elder Maxwell states that, The faithful will not be immune from events on this planet ? (Encircled In The Arms of His Love, Ensign, November, 2002). When I had my second miscarriage, I felt as if I was being tested and tried beyond my capacity, I was overcome by my mortality and the heartache that being human can bring. I found myself questioning why me? ? I felt as if I were Murphy ?s Law incarnate and that things would never get better. During the midst of the trial I could not see the workings of God for my benefit. It ?s only now that almost two years have past, and I find another member of my family in the trial of their life ? that I see some of the wisdom for my own trials.
Pregnancy loss, brought me down, down to my knees. At first, when I felt I could not get thru the day, I asked God for the strength to get thru the next 15 minutes, or the next hour, or the afternoon. Then as I mastered those increments of time, I asked for help getting thru the day, the week, and Relief Society and Church meetings. With time I realized that I had come to trust and rely on the Lord for strength and sustenance. I realized that in my darkest hour, as Ether stated, ?And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weaknesses, that they be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men than humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me then I will make weak things become strong unto them. ? (See Ether 12: 27). I had found my weakness but I had also found grace and peace.
My weakness was that I did not have enough faith in the Lord to trust that I would survive the sadness and that I would be happy once again. Elder Dennis E Simmons teaches that, We don ?t seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots ? can become remarkable blessings ? (But If Not, Ensign, May, 2004). Realizing that we have not been sent here to fail, will bring us comfort in our times of trial as well. Realizing also that we have the answers to the test of mortality can help us manage the times when bad things happen to good people.
How do we learn the answers to the mortal exam? We must humble ourselves, we must be obedient to the commandments, we must pray for help, guidance and comfort and most of all, we must have faith. But not just any old faith, we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Alma we read, And he shall go forth suffering pains and afflictions of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith, that he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. He will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. ? (See Alma 7: 11–12). By having faith that Christ did suffer pains and afflictions of every kind ? we can take comfort that He does know what it feels like to be a mortal, to have a broken heart, a broken family, a broken body or a broken spirit. Because He did suffer those things, He can comfort us, and guide us perfectly, if we will let Him; if we are willing to follow Him.
The heart of the Plan of Salvation is Jesus Christ. We have someone to succor us, to lift us up and to bear our burden, to save us body and spirit, in short, to get us thru the bad times. We need only humble ourselves and ask, and the Lord will answer. Bad things don ?t happen to good people because God is arbitrary and punitive. Bad things happen to good people because that is part of mortality and the Plan of Salvation; it is how we are taught and trained to become the people God needs us to be.