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When Bad Things Happen To Good People

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.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Alison Moore Smith October 22, 2007, 11:52 pm

    Joyce, this is such a moving piece. What a great thing to point people back to.

    This was my favorite line:

    It was at this point that I asked myself ?how do we survive mortality? ?, until I realized that we don ?t survive mortality…

    Isnt’ that the truth!

  • Oregonian October 23, 2007, 1:23 am

    I like this alot. You speak for lots of people with this and give some good answers. Thanx.

  • delmar October 23, 2007, 9:02 am

    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)

    This is one of my favorite parts of the BOM. In the past year my family has suffered many “afflictions”…Moving, unemployment, family fights, gossip and financial hardships. The past 3 months have been even worse…..a horrible car accident resulting in me being in the hospital 2 weeks with a broken knee, a miscarriage, family fights, gossip, even more financial hardship, a coming lawsuit, my recovery, another move…it seems endless for us right now. My husband did finally find a job!!!

    I feel like I’m holding on by a shoestring. Pretty much all I have left is my husband, my 2 girls, a few good friends and family, my ward family and my testimony. Sounds like a pretty good list when you step back and think about it. It could always be worse…right?

    Satan needs to leave me alone for a while and I need to take a huge leap of faith.

  • delmar October 23, 2007, 9:02 am

    ok i have no idea how to quote the article….i’m tired this morning.

  • davidson October 23, 2007, 9:53 pm

    Sweet Delmar. I SO understand the feeling of swinging by the proverbial shoestring. You aren’t swinging alone. I pray fervently that Satan WILL leave you alone for awhile. We’ll stand behind you while you get in leaping stance. Not only do you have your husband, your 2 girls, a few friends, your ward family, and your testimony–you have us, your internet sisters! I can’t tell you what a blessing and a help this website has been to me in many ways. Let’s link arms and stand together! We love you.

  • east-of-eden October 24, 2007, 7:06 am

    Delmar…

    I’m sorry to hear about all of what has happened to you, especially the m/c — I can relate on that one.

    Lately, I’ve been praying for a “heavenly injuction” for our family as well. I won’t go into the details here, but having a break to get our feet under us would be nice.

    Hang in there! :wink:

  • facethemusic October 24, 2007, 4:28 pm

    Lovely article, Joyce!
    It’s interesting to me to hear about the struggles of others and how they cope with them.
    When it comes right down to it, it REALLY IS a matter of real, active and sincere faith.
    We all have our strengths and weaknesses– what might be easier for me to handle may be more difficult for someone else to handle. What they cope with well, may be harder for me to cope with. But really, either way, if we believe that we’re never given more than can be borne, then no matter what trials or struggles we face, we CAN bear them. Sometimes we FEEL like we can’t, but from scripture, we know that we CAN. But, whether or not we DO is up to us and our faith.
    This past Sunday was a really awful one for our ward. Our high priest group leader dressed up in his Sunday suit, kissed his wife goodbye, went out the door prentending to head to his early morning meetings before Church– ward council, welfare meetings, etc– but instead, drove to a local park, stuck a gun in his mouth and took his own life. Then his poor wife got to church a couple hours later and sat through Sacrament meeting wondering where her husband was.
    In the meantime, my husband, who’s in the Bishopric and happens to be a police officer, called dispatch to see if he’d been in an accident or something– that’s when he heard that the police had found him in the park, and my husband and the Bishop drove over to identify the body.
    Naturally– everyone and their dog was calling, wanting to talk to my husband, and they all asked the same question.
    “Why?” “Did he leave a note? What could have been so horrible that he would do something like that?” “He was so sweet and always seemed so happy. He was planning on going on the temple trip this weekend… why would he do this? What could be THAT bad?”
    The truth is, we’ll never know the “why”. At least not in this life. There were some family issues, but nothing that anyone knows about that would have led anyone to believe for one second that he would commit suicide.
    I’m convinced that he clearly was NOT in his right mind. He couldn’t have been “himself” that morning. Whatever was causing so much pain and despair FELT, at the moment to be unbearable, and hopeless. But this is a man who loved going to the temple, who was always working on geneaology and temple work for his family line, who was always serving and helping the elderly and the widows of our ward.
    It’s all just so horribly sad– and now his wife will have to go on. What was HIS test is now HERS. It’s things like this that really require our faith and trust in the Atonement and in the Savior’s amazing love and mercy. It’s sufficient for this brother’s actions, and sufficient for the pain and grief his wife is left to bear.
    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. ?
    Those words mean so much more right now!

  • agardner October 24, 2007, 6:37 pm

    Wow, what a difficult situation for your ward, and especially for his family. Alison posted several weeks ago but the suicide of a friend, and me about some family members and friends. One thing I think we’ve all agreed on is that when people have made this choice, they were not in their right minds. It’s such a horrible thing all around. My prayers are with his family. I’ve been there, and I know this is going to be a very difficult thing for them to go through.

  • mlinford October 24, 2007, 11:48 pm

    Joyce, this is a topic I need on a regular basis, and one of my favorites because its benefits are so real if we will really embrace it all.

    I’m sorry to hear of the horrible time your ward is having, Tracy. One thought that came to mind is that I doubt that brother’s test is over, nor his need for faith. But the pain of his family left behind is almost hard to even contemplate right now. My heart just hurts. Please send them love from the strangers but sisters here. :)

  • facethemusic October 25, 2007, 12:22 pm

    Posted By: mlinford One thought that came to mind is that I doubt that brother’s test is over, nor his need for faith.

    Good point.

  • delmar October 25, 2007, 3:17 pm

    facethemusic-
    i’m so sorry for the loss in your ward. suicide is a hard subject to handle and too much for mortals to contemplate in my eyes. i honestly just find comfort knowing everything is in Heavenly Fathers hands….and always has been.

  • MandyV September 25, 2008, 8:05 am

    Thank you for addressing the difficulties of infertility, especially within the church and from a gospel perspective. Some things are just so much harder then you ever imagined them to be…your strength and perspective really has helped me to remember that I WILL get through this. Even if it is only a day at a time. Now the challenge is “enduring well” and moving my testimony about this from my head to my heart.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 25, 2008, 12:38 pm

    MandyV, bless your heart. Although I dealt with five miscarriages while trying to have my kids, it’s a different issue than what you’re talking about to some extent. However, my parents dealt with it…which is why I was adopted.

    I’m not really trying to give you advice because only you know what is best for your family, but I am VERY pro-adoption! :bigsmile:

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