“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, July 2003, 16
Questions and Answers
Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Bad things often occur when people make bad decisions. Those decisions can affect others.
Bad things can be turned to our good if we seek to do God’s will (see D&C 122:7).
By enduring our trials well, we become stronger and more understanding.
Rather than ask, “Why me?” ask, “What can I learn from this?”
We can turn to the Savior in any trial because He knows exactly how we feel and can help us.
No one escapes suffering in this life. We all go through some pain, sadness, and adversity. God allows us to go through trials so we can be tested and have our agency.
Bad things can happen to good people when people misuse their agency. Those who make poor choices hurt themselves and sometimes other people, even good people. Crime and divorce, for instance, are often the result of poor choices.
But poor choices don’t cause all suffering. Difficult circumstances like disease, accidents, starvation, or natural disasters are a part of mortal life. Difficulty rains “on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).
The most important thing is to trust God and obey His will. Suffering in this life will eventually come to an end, and God’s perfect mercy, justice, and judgment will resolve all the “why’s” we wonder about now. The Lord loves us and sees the eternal view, so we can trust Him to guide our lives. He promises that our trials and difficulties can work for our good if we’re trying to live the right way (see D&C 90:24; D&C 122:7). He promises us peace that transcends the evil of the world (John 16:33). Psalms 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”
Joseph Smith, a faithful, obedient servant of God, suffered tremendously. Yet he was able to endure his trials with God’s help and with an eternal perspective. The Lord told Joseph to remember that “thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7–8). We have the same promise.
President James E. Faust said, “Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful. … For some, the refiner’s fire causes a loss of belief and faith in God, but those with eternal perspective understand that such refining is part of the perfection process” (Ensign, May 1979, 54).
The pain and adversity we face in this life can be like a refiner’s fire. If we endure our trials well, we can emerge from the fire stronger and brighter.
Jesus Christ was the only perfect person who ever lived on the earth, yet He was scourged, smitten, and suffered all things (see 1 Ne. 19:9). Because He suffered, we don’t have to be alone in our hard times. He understands the pain everyone goes through and offers peace, healing, and eternal blessings if we endure our trials well. Because of the healing and blessing power of the Atonement, we can see our trials as chances to learn, to grow, and, most important, to come unto Christ.
I was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of my senior year. Now, two years later, I am cancer free. I learned more from that trial than I thought possible. The Lord gives us trials that He knows we can handle, and that will help us learn and grow. He is always there for us.
Aubre Snow, Wasilla, Alaska
When bad things happen to good people, it can humble them and test their strength. Job, in the Bible, had everything taken away from him, but he never turned away from God. In the end Job got everything back, but twice as much.
Brian Anderson, Cary, North Carolina
We can be positive that suffering has a purpose: to make you stronger or maybe even to make someone watching stronger. It could be to give you wisdom to help others along when things get bad for them. It may seem hard and quite unfair, but there is reasoning behind it. Just keep your trust in the Lord.
Ashlie Dotson, Hereford, Texas
When you come to understand that Heavenly Father has a purpose and a plan for you and that our Savior, Jesus Christ, can give you comfort, trials take on a different meaning. When you have faith in our Heavenly Father and His eternal plan, you can be assured that there is purpose in all that happens to us here on this earth.
Josi Rust, Springfield, Oregon
By watching the news we can tell how confused our world is. To understand why, we can look at Alma 14:10–11 and Alma 60:13. Both passages testify that the righteous do not perish but pass with glory unto God and that God suffers this so that His justice and judgment can fall upon the wicked. God allows evil to exist in the world, but He loves us and weeps for us. One day the Lord will answer all of our questions, revealing the purpose of all things.
Joseph Novak, Kirtland, Ohio
When something bad comes into our life, how we deal with it shows God the faith we have in Him and His Son, Jesus.
Jared Michael Shrack, Muncie, Indiana
We should learn to recognize our trials as potential blessings. The Lord allows us to face bad things to shape us into better people. We can trust Him. I know He listens to our prayers and takes care of our needs.
Jerilyn P. Cales, Hong Kong, China
Heavenly Father allows us to have trials so we can overcome our weaknesses and make them strengths. He wants us to come to Him and ask Him for help so He can make us better than we already are.
Jenae Plymale, Jackson, Ohio
Sometimes we forget that we came to earth to be tested. Job was a very righteous man who had terrible things happen to him. We can use his example to help us through our own trials. We can also be comforted to know that the Lord will help us if we keep His commandments.
Joel Mowers, Sparks, Nevada