Q&A: Questions and Answers
July 1989

“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, July 1989, 9

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Why is life so easy for some people and so hard for others? Some of my friends don’t have any problems at all, while others of us have more than our share. It doesn’t seem like an equal test.

New Era Answer

You assume that life is easy for some people. Are you sure?

To a casual observer, *Chris would seem to have a really easy life. She’s pretty, has lots of friends, comes from a super home, is really talented in music—and so on.

Easy life, right? Maybe not: Most people don’t know that Chris has a serious heart defect. Chances are Chris won’t be able to have children.

Or take Manny. To those around him, Manny looks like a guy with a really easy life. He’s on the football team, he gets good grades, and he has many friends.

But Manny never invites his friends over to his house. He doesn’t want them to know that his father is an alcoholic. At age 15, Manny has to be both “big brother” and “dad” to his brothers and sisters. He has to be both oldest son and home repairman for his mother. Manny’s the one who puts the tricycles and toys together on Christmas Eve.

Finally, consider the case of Friedrich, who never seemed to have any problems. Schooling came easy. He married well and inherited well. His business prospered. Friedrich lived in the biggest house and drove the biggest car and had the prettiest wife and enjoyed good health until he died at age 94.

Friedrich appeared to have the easiest life imaginable. But Friedrich failed his test—his “easy test.” For with all his success and all his prosperity, he lost his testimony and his perspective and died a bitter, disillusioned old miser. All his children and grandchildren grew up outside the gospel.

We could discuss dozens—hundreds—of similar examples, but the point would always be the same: we simply don’t know how hard life may be for someone else.

This isn’t to say that if there were some sort of mythical “hardness meter,” we would all come out exactly even. It’s true enough that some people seem to have more than their share of sorrow and pain.

Nevertheless, we can be sure that even when life is not an equal test, it is still a fair test, if only because the one who grades the test is absolutely fair. Our Heavenly Father knows both us and our trials perfectly. He will weigh all this and judge us righteously.

One way or the other, we all have to answer the same question the best we can in light of the circumstances we find ourselves in: “We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).

Implicit in your question is the notion that life is not only unequal but unfair. It can certainly seem that way at times. Our Father in Heaven is perfectly fair, but he is not the source of all or even most of our trials. We suffer sometimes because of our own mistakes and sometimes because of the unrighteous actions of others. We also endure the buffetings of chance. God allows us to be subject to these injustices because learning to deal with such trials is one of the reasons we are here. It’s one of the ways we develop the attributes of godliness.

If it’s any comfort, you’re not alone with what seems to be unfairness. Read how Joseph Smith was arrested and jailed and mobbed again and again—for no crimes whatever.

And was there anything fair in Jesus’ trial and crucifixion? How could it be fair that someone who was perfect and sinless should have to suffer both body and spirit to pay for the sins of imperfect, sinful people? And yet through these “unfair” sorrows, righteously borne, have come blessings untold for all mankind. This same miracle can work in our own lives. There is no trial so hard that good cannot come of it with God’s help.

In the meantime, of course, your hardships are still hard, and your pain still hurts. It’s worth mentioning here that we are not expected to abjectly bear trials which can be righteously overcome. We can and should pitch in and try to right injustices, heal sorrows, and overcome obstacles to our happiness. At baptism we covenant to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). It is altogether appropriate that we should work to conquer all the unfair things that exist in this imperfect, unfair world: racism, illiteracy, poverty, disease, and all the rest.

So if you know someone whose life seems to be harder than yours, go ahead and do all you can to ease his burden. And if you know someone who’s life seems to be easier than yours, remember that he may be looking enviously at you and wishing he had it so good.

Youth Answers

I have cerebral palsy and can’t walk without help. I know that Heavenly Father loves me, and He has given me gifts and strengths to endure this. He has given me the gospel and so many other things. I am so grateful! It is an equal test.

The Lord is just. We are all individuals with our strengths and weaknesses. He knows that and tests us accordingly. Maybe a big test for someone is a small test for someone else. The Lord won’t test us beyond our ability. One of my favorite scriptures is Doctrine and Covenants 122:5–7. [D&C 122:5–7] Joseph Smith is in the Liberty Jail and he is asking the Lord why he and the Saints are having all these trials. Heavenly Father answers and says that “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”

Rebecca Keeley, 16
Hyrum, Utah

All my life I’ve asked myself practically the same question, “Why do so many people have life easy and some have life so hard?” Personally, I don’t feel that Heavenly Father would have let me need glasses and hearing aids, struggle with schoolwork, have few friends, and require a lot of pills for kidney and bone diseases unless I had agreed before I came to earth, to live with serious hardships.

As for those who have life easy, well, I’ve never heard of such a thing. I look around myself and realize that everyone has problems. Who said this life was going to be easy? Who said it was going to be fair? I have a hard and unfair life and I have fallen many times, but I pick myself up each time and look to my Father in Heaven for help and comfort. He will help you because he loves us so much. And if there is anyone in this world who thinks he is having an easy life—I’d like to meet him!

Denise Anderson, 16
Richfield, Utah

It has been my experience that our challenges are often proportional to our strength and ability to endure and overcome. As my strength has increased, so has the degree of my challenges.

We should also realize that the challenges that come our way are for our benefit and not just to make us miserable.

Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to succeed. He also knows what is best for you in the long run.

Elder Douglas Cox, 19
California San Jose Mission

We are here in mortality to be tested. It is one of the main purposes of our existence here on earth. At different stages of our lives, we, as individuals, are tested in different areas in comparison to our friends. We may think our peers have it easier than we do, but the Lord excludes no one. We each must experience different trials in order to receive the individual growth and development the Lord knows we need. No one escapes tribulation. It is essential to our growth. Every burden on the back is a gift in the hand.

Always remember, the Lord loves you. He is just and kind and will not burden you with more than you can bear.

Jane Bender, 18
Glen Huon, Tasmania, Australia

If we were tested the same, it would be easy for some and hard for others because we are all different and can handle trials, temptations, and stress at different levels. The trials must be different in order for everyone to reach his or her full potential. I believe that Heavenly Father knows each one of us and our capabilities and how much we can bear. He won’t let us be tempted and tried more than we can handle and he is there for us to help us overcome. In 1 Nephi 3:7 [1 Ne. 3:7] it says, “I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

Julie Clinton, 17
Simi Valley, California

I really do know what you mean. Right now my family of eight lives in a tiny three-bedroom house. I share a fairly small room with my three sisters. It doesn’t seem fair that my best friend has her own room, which is bigger than the room I share with my sisters. Try reading about Job’s experiences in the Old Testament. Job was about as righteous as they come, and look at his tests.

Marca Tanner, 14
Firth, Idaho

When you feel that your own life is too hard, think of all those people that don’t even get one good meal a day. Think of those poor innocent babies dying of AIDS. What did they ever do to deserve that?

And yet, in spite of life’s injustices, we all shouted for joy in agreement to come to earth, to be tested, and to gain a body. We knew the plan, and we agreed to it.

When you feel discouraged about your own life, remember that Jesus suffered the greatest of all pains. I ask you, was that fair?

Ask Heavenly Father to help you overcome your feelings of resentment. You can do it!

Rachael Yamamoto, 13
Waianae, Hawaii

Life isn’t always as it seems. People who seem to have everything going for them really don’t. For instance, I knew a girl who I thought had everything. She was cute, rich, popular, and everything about her was perfect, I thought. Later I found out that her parents were divorced, her brother died two years ago, and her newborn niece died of crib death. I thought I had problems! But, you see, she seemed to be the happiest person I’ve ever met. Some people just hide it better than others.

Beki Jaynes, 14
St. George, Utah

  • All names in this answer have been changed.

Photography by Jed Clark