I’ve had a few experiences recently that have brought to mind this question. As I’ve counseled people, sometimes they are suffering because of their own actions and sometimes it is because of the actions of others. It’s a good question, and probably doesn’t have a specific answer. Why do bad things happen to good people? When approaching this question, there are a few things I try to remember/share:
- There is always someone worse off than you. Not that we are happy that other people are suffering, but hopefully we can gain strength by seeing how others have coped.
- Paul wrote that “God… will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” (1 Cor 10:13). The footnote for “tempted” says that it means “seized upon”. So we won’t be tested, have challenges, or have outsides forces that will be more than we can bear. My wife was recently telling me that she had heard a talk that explained that we often misquote this scripture. You’ve probably heard people say that God won’t test us beyond what we can handle. There is a difference between “handle” and “bear”. The word “handle” seems to imply that we are doing it on our own, as in “I can handle it”. The word bear seems to imply that we are enduring, that God is giving us strength to bear it.
- The last point kind of blends into this one. Since God is giving us strength to bear our afflictions, then it is through our afflictions that we see the hand of God in our lives. It is when we can’t do things on our own that the grace of God takes over. At this point, the Atonement of Christ has effect in our lives. He suffered for our sins and all our pains and sufferings (Alma 7:11-12). We need Him, and our trials help us recognize that.
This certainly isn’t mean to be an exhaustive treatment, but these are some of the thoughts I’ve been having.