Over the summer, one of my very dearest friends lost her little brother in a tragic drowning accident. I wasn't particularly close to the brother because he was so many years younger than us but it was still hard for me to take. It was hard knowing that somebody I love has such an intense grief. It was hard because that question kept coming to my mind... WHY? why do bad things happen to good people? And this isn't even a case of a bad thing happening to good people. this was a horrific tragedy happening to one of the most amazing and exemplary families I have ever known.
More recently, some of our friends here in Eugene lost their young nephew to childhood cancer. I never met this boy or his immediate family but knowing his wonderful Aunt and Uncle the question comes to me again. Why do these awful things happen to GOOD people? It's just not fair. Maybe it's a lack of faith on my part but it's hard to look at some of these things and not question why.
In my questioning I have made a few realizations. And maybe my thoughts are completely wrong but at least to me they bring some comfort.
We were sent to earth to be tested. We are given trials and weaknesses to help us draw closer to God by overcoming them through Him and through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Or we can take them the other way and use our trials and weaknesses as a way to blame God or become further away from Him.
One thing that has crossed my mind is that God is not going to give us a trial or hardship that is too much for us to bear. I also believe that God is not going to always and only give us trials that are easy for us to bear, that isn't the point of trials after all. As I had said earlier, my friend and her family are great examples. Erica is one of the greatest women I have met and will ever meet, always striving to be righteous, always striving to please God. Maybe for her and her family, a trial of this magnitude is what they had to have to truly test their strong faith.
As I attended the funeral I was amazed at the strength of the family. Both parents spoke and addressed the crowd of many mourning people with such strength. I can't think of another word besides pure strength to describe it. And then as I discussed it with Erica she had no questions of why, no bitterness, no anger. She simply relayed faith in God's plan, such GREAT faith. It was such a great example to me regarding accepting God's will. Seeing her parents speak at the funeral I thought what great examples of faith they are setting for everybody in attendance when they themselves are the ones suffering from tragedy. I can't think of another family who would have displayed such great examples of faith in the same situation. Maybe everybody else needed to see such faith and strength in the midst of an awful hardship.
I don't know all the answers, nobody does, and it's hard to understand God's plan all of the time but even though we don't always understand that doesn't mean we can't have faith.
Back in high school Erica shared a quote with me that I have loved ever since. Her mother also shared it at the funeral.
"Sometimes the Lord calms the storm, and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child...We learn lessons from storms that we cannot learn from calm seas...When we find ourselves in these stroms, we should remember we don't have enough energy to complain and still keep our head above water. Our duty is to swim, not wonder or complain. We need to get to shore and must leave the reasons for the storm with the Lord. If all the effort we put into asking why were used in swimming, a lot more of us, with His help, would reach shore." -Elder Groberg
I love it. Apparently I need to stop asking and work on my swimming! I don't think my days of asking "why do bad things happen to good people?" are over but certainly through these experiences I have an increase in faith that God's plan, trials and all, is perfect.