Why do bad things happen to good people?

12 Aug

This question seems to come up a lot in religious discussions, and I’ve been thinking about how to answer it. There are good quotes from Church authorities, good stories from teachers I’ve had, but the best way that I know how to think of it is by my own experience as a tutor.

When you teach math to a group of children, what do you do? You explain the principle, and then you put a problem in front of them. Some children will work diligently and find the answer with relative ease. Others will have more difficulty. They will struggle, and they will become somewhat frustrated. Finally, they will ask you for the answer.

Will you give it to them? Will you solve the problem for them?

You can’t. If you gave the answer to those struggling children, you would stunt their growth and stall their learning. I often had to tell the young children I tutored that I couldn’t give them the answer, but I could explain the principle again, in a new way, I could monitor their progress and talk them through it, and I could tell them whether their answer was right or wrong. This wasn’t always what they wanted to hear, but it was the best way for them to learn how to do the problems on their own.

Like a good teacher, our Heavenly Father has explained to us the principle of living righteously and being good. Now he sets before us some problems and it’s up to us to work through them. But we’re not alone. He has given us scriptures and prophets that explain things more fully. He is there to monitor our progress. And he can tell us whether our answer is right or wrong.

Our Heavenly Father can’t take away our problems or trials because he wants what’s best for us. He knows that this is our opportunity to learn and he would never take that away from us. Like a math problem, our trials are put in front of us for our learning. You wouldn’t fault a teacher for challenging her students, and we can’t fault God for challenging his children. He has given us everything we need to get through this life and he is available to talk us through it when we can’t do it alone.

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One Response to “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

  1. Kevin Clawson August 21, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Great thoughts! It’s easy to get lost in a pity-party if things aren’t going our way. But if we recognized that God is trying to help us be more Christ-like, we will see the refiner’s fire for the improvements that are ahead of us. And rejoice!

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