Why do bad things happen to good people?


We have all known people who have had bad things happen to them, or perhaps even wondered why terrible things happen to us–sudden deaths, incurable diseases, and natural disasters that destroy homes and prized possessions.  These types of events cause us to question from time to time, “why do bad things happen to good people?”  I don’t have a perfect answer for you, but what I do know is that trials and tribulation cause us to grow in ways that we might not comprehend or realize.  I can personally say that the most character-shaping times of my life have been the times that I have had to struggle the most.  Granted, I didn’t see this until the tribulation had passed, but I wouldn’t trade those hard times for anything now.  I am thankful for them.

In the most recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Elder L. Whitney Clayton, in his talk “That Your Burdens May Be Light”, shared 3 points that have helped me to understand why bad things happen to good people.

“In a general sense, our burdens come from three sources. Some burdens are the natural product of the conditions of the world in which we live. Illness, physical disability, hurricanes, and earthquakes come from time to time through no fault of our own. We can prepare for these risks and sometimes we can predict them, but in the natural pattern of life we will all confront some of these challenges.

Other burdens are imposed on us by the misconduct of others. Abuse and addictions can make home anything but a heaven on earth for innocent family members. Sin, incorrect traditions, repression, and crime scatter burdened victims along the pathways of life. Even less-serious misdeeds such as gossip and unkindness can cause others genuine suffering.

Our own mistakes and shortcomings produce many of our problems and can place heavy burdens on our own shoulders. The most onerous burden we impose upon ourselves is the burden of sin. We have all known the remorse and pain which inevitably follow our failure to keep the commandments.

No matter the burdens we face in life as a consequence of natural conditions, the misconduct of others, or our own mistakes and shortcomings, we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, who sent us to earth as part of His eternal plan for our growth and progress. Our unique individual experiences can help us prepare to return to Him. The adversity and afflictions that are ours, however difficult to bear, last, from heaven’s perspective, for “but a small moment; and then, if [we] endure it well, God shall exalt [us] on high” (D&C 121:7-8). We must do everything we can to bear our burdens “well” for however long our “small moment” carrying them lasts.”

This helped me to understand why bad things happen to us sometimes.  I hope that when something happens to you, you will remember what Elder Clayton said and realize that maybe this hard time is actually for your benefit; also, it is not an indication of God’s lack of love, remember that Christ suffered more than anyone else, and He is God’s most beloved Son.

Related Articles and Links:

Our Life On Earth
Agency in the Eternities
What Do Mormons Believe? – Choices
Mormon.org – Freedom to Choose
Mormon.org – God’s Plan of Happiness
Why Do Bad Things Happen?