As I was traveling down to St. George a couple weeks ago, I was listening to a CD by John Bytheway titled "5 Scriptures That Will Help You Get Through Almost Anything." I'd listened to it before but that was a long time ago so I decided to give it another go. I get car-sick when I read or write in the car, so I decided to listen to it again a couple days ago. I decided to write a blog post about it and put up a link to where you can buy or download the CD but I found this link to a condensed version of this talk instead, which I think is also great because you'll have this as well. There are things that were said on the CD that weren't included in this article in the New Era (obviously since it's a condensed version..) but there were some things in this condensed version that weren't said on the CD. If you don't have the CD, I highly recommend getting it. It is extremely applicable to missionaries. You will either have these questions yourself in your lifetime, or you will be approached by someone else who wants to know the answers. You should get this CD!!
Why do bad things happen to good people? Find the answers in the book where the answers will never change.
1. 1 Nephi 11:17 WE KNOW THAT GOD LOVES HIS CHILDREN
- We don't know everything. I'll be the first to admit that. We don't know how things will turn out, we don't have all the answers. But from this scripture, we KNOW that God loves His children.
- Sometimes challenges arise because of our disobedience. That is true. But it is also true that adversity is just part of life. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. If you know and learn nothing else, know that God loves you.
"God already knows what we’re made of, but perhaps He wants us
to learn what we’re made of. I think we would all agree that we learn
more from our tough times than from our easy times. Sometimes bad things
happen to good people. We don’t know the meaning of all things, but we
know God loves His children! And because He loves us, He will never
2. Moses 7:26-33 WE KNOW THAT GOD ALLOWS EVIL TO EXIST IN THIS WORLD
- God allows us to have our agency. If He didn't allow us our agency, His plan wouldn't be perfect. It would be corrupt, broken, and unjust. It would be pointless. The war in Heaven was fought over our agency. "Agency is essential to the Plan of Happiness" (Elder Quintin L. Cook, General Conference, April 2013).
- Enoch witnesses a vision of Satan looking upon the world and laughing. He also sees God looking down on the world, weeping. Enoch asks God:
“How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?” God replies: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own
hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them;
and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
“And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that
they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their
Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own
blood” (Moses 7:32-33). This scripture also shows us the God loves His children. He weeps when we make bad decisions and love not one another, as He commanded. When we serve each other, we are serving God. He is sad when we don't do as he commands. But He allows agency, which allows man to sin. Because man was given agency, we were also give the gift of Jesus Christ's Atonement, which saves us from sin. As Elder Hafen put it in his book titled "Eve Heard All These Things": Because of "the Atonement of Jesus Christ, [we may] learn from our experience without being condemned by that experience" (p. 32).
But how often has God saved you from tragedy? How many times has he stopped something in its tracks before it had a chance to become worse? We won't know in this life. There is a line between what God causes and what God permits.
"Many of the bad things that happen are contrary to God’s will. But
remember that man’s will is temporary, and ultimately God’s will is what
will be done."
"The plan of happiness allows for agency, and therefore it also allows for evil. There is no flaw in the plan."
3. Alma 14:13 OUR WORK IS NOT FINISHED
- Alma and Amulek taught the people of Ammonihah, and what occurred there was a horrible scene. Women and children were thrown into a bonfire by men who reacted badly to what Alma and Amulek were preaching. They forced these two missionaries to watch. Amulek wondered aloud how they could go on witnessing such an occurrance and Alma responded: "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for
behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory.” Amulek then says: “Perhaps they will burn us also.” Alma replies with: "“Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not” (Alma 14:10-13). John Bytheway quotes another on the CD saying: "No righteous person is taken before his time."
"After making such a statement, the obvious question becomes, what about
those who die in such tragedies? Does that mean their work is finished?
Perhaps their work on earth is finished, but apparently there is more work to do in the spirit world."
(I love this next part he added and how it compares with missionary work here on the earth!!):
"Death is just another milepost in the plan of salvation. One mission
president noted the sadness experienced by families who send a
missionary out into the field. He also observed the great joy
experienced by the mission president and his wife as they welcome a new
missionary into their area. The very same event brings different
feelings to different people depending on where they are. Similarly,
those who are left behind feel sadness at the passing of their loved
one, but there is great joy in the spirit world as the departed spirit
enters into the next phase of his or her eternal existence."
- Many wonder about the death of children, and why they are taken to early in this life. The prophet Joseph Smith said: "The Lord takes many away even in infancy, that they may escape the envy
of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too
pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered,
instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from
evil, and we shall soon have them again.... All children are
redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and the moment that children
leave this world, they are taken to the bosom of Abraham. The only
difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in
heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little
sooner from this miserable wicked world” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 196-197).
"... don’t let this tragedy define your life! You still have your own
mission. Like Alma and Amulek, perhaps you were spared because your work
is not finished!"
4. Alma 7:11-12 THE ATONEMENT IS NOT JUST FOR SINNERS
- Sometimes, bad things that happen to us are because of someone else's actions, or they just happen. We have no control of it. If you read Alma 7:11-12, you'll notice that the word "sin" is nowhere to be found. Christ did not only suffer for our sins. He also suffered for things that happen to us that we may have no control over. (Pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, and infirmities.)
- Tragedies like the women and children being thrown into the fire, shootings, bombings, September 11... they affect a lot of people that aren't directly involved. How do we move past that? How do we deal with it? These are usually times where many people question how God could allow something like this to happen. If we keep an eternal perspective and understand that God's will is what will happen, not necessarily that God caused such a thing, but that His will is what will happen, we can rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ to pull us through.
5. D&C 101:32-36 ONE DAY, THE LORD WILL REVEAL ALL THINGS
- We don't know all things in this life, and we don't need to. If we did, we would know the answers to everything. A good example of this is a patriarchal blessing. The promises made to you in your patriarchal blessing are conditional, of course- they depend on your faithfulness and righteousness. But some things stated in a patriarchal blessing occur in this life, some things don't. Sometimes it's a continuous journey and something that began here continues after you've left this life. We just don't know everything and why everything happens. I think the question "WHY?" is the most sought after question in the universe. Scientists, physicists, doctors, politicians, everyone wants to know "Why?" We have to face the fact that we may never know in this life. Some things are explained, some things aren't, and some things that you thought were fact are proven different. God will reveal all things in His own time.
“And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in
faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet
shall they partake of all this glory.
“Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full” (D&C 101:35-36).
The Ultimate Answer
- The scriptures lead to the Savior. They testify of Him. The Scriptures can't get us through everything, just almost everything. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can help us through absolutely everything. The scriptures can certainly help and point us in the right direction but they are not everything. The scriptures lead us to Him. The way to be happy is through Christ. Satan would have you believe there is another way to be happy but the truth is, there isn't. We find joy in the Lord. He was tempted by Satan, yet He remains without sin. He atoned for us, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He can help us through anything and everything.
"Because of Jesus Christ, we can remove the word “almost.” Jesus didn’t almost conquer death and hell; He conquered it. Jesus didn’t almost accomplish the infinite and eternal Atonement; He accomplished it."
These scriptures are critical to missionary work. Tragedies happen every day. We want to know the answers to all things. We mess up, we sin. We see evil all the time. But when we know that God loves us, that He allows evil in the world in order for us to grow and experience life, to decide for ourselves what path we will choose, that we have a purpose here on earth, that the work goes on, that we can become better people through the Atonement, that we can use it to overcome our personal trials and that one day all things will be made known, and remember that the Savior suffered all things on our behalf, that through Him we are saved, we can make it through EVERYTHING.