Is there a reason that some souls are chosen to be raised in affluent homes that can afford a high-level education and to parents that genuinely care about the child, and some into poverty, abuse, and suffering from the moment they exit the womb? Why are some children naturally smarter than others – why are some child prodigies, and some mentally disabled?
I should start with a story. I once worked with a building contractor whose wife was a member of the church. As we discussed this on occasion, he would tell me about attending church with his wife for special events. He was supportive of her worship, but not interested in membership. At one point in our work relationship, when things did not go well in a particular negotiation, he seemed to be taking the bad news I delivered in stride. I commented on the maturity of his acceptance of the bad news. He told me, “you know, whenever things like this happen, I ask myself, ‘will this matter to me in five or ten years?’ If the answer is no, I don’t get too worked up over it.” I asked if he had ever considered what it would mean to him in 100 years. He look at me a bit puzzled and said, “no.” I told him that when he did, he would get baptized. We had a good laugh over that, but what I said, I meant.
So I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that I do not have any definitive answers for you, especially when it comes to connections between our choices, activity and faith in the pre-mortal world and this world. The bucket of things we don’t know is fuller than the bucket of things we do know. Though we cannot make assumptions about any given person or situation, Alma 13:3 makes it clear, that for some, there is certainly a connection.
“And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.”
Some patriarchal blessings indicate that some people chose the family they were born into or were given a particular family due to faithfulness in the pre-mortal world. This does not give license for us to make assumptions about any given person and their situation in life.
The good news is that what happened in the pre-mortal world is of little importance compared to what happens here and now in preparation for what comes after. Doctrine and Covenants 83:3 is clear that,
3 For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.
The inverse is also true, ‘Unto whom little is given, less is required and he who is righteous with the lesser light shall receive greater exaltation.’ The parable of the talents comes to mind. The only rebuke given in the parable was given to the person who buried their talents instead of using them. Enough is given to everyone to receive every eternal blessing available.
Elder Boyd K Packer, as part of a CES Broadcast, The Plan and the Play, described life as a three-act play. We find ourselves in the middle act without recollection of much of anything in Act 1. This makes life more difficult, of course. He said,
Though it may seem unfair and even hurtful that some are born into privilege, and others into abuse, poverty and suffering, a longer perspective and trust in the plan of redemption, including perfect justice and mercy, are quite soothing.
“Until you have a broad perspective of the eternal nature of this great drama, you won’t make much sense out of the inequities in life. Some are born with so little and others with so much, some in poverty, with handicaps, with pain, with suffering, premature death even of innocent children. There are the brutal, unforgiving forces of nature and the brutality of man to man. We’ve seen a lot of that recently. Do not suppose that God willfully causes that, which for His own purposes, He permits. When you know the plan and purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven.”
I recommend you read the entire talk.