Why do some get so many trials while others are happy and prosperous? Why don’t people understand me and force me to do things I don’t like?
When we contemplate God’s love, his mercy, and his grace while considering the lives of those who have already lived your question is profound. History appears to repeat itself, some of God’s children suffer through many trials, while others appear to live lives of rescue and healing (not so many trials in their lives). Our present day is no different; some of God’s children learn through trials and suffering (at times we feel we are enduring more than we can bear), while others learn life’s lessons through rescue and healing. In order to answer your question I would invite you to read a wonderful talk given by Elder David A. Bednar, “That We Might ‘Not Shrink’ (D&C 19:18),” while I share some quotes from this devotional address.
The first thought is a quote Elder Bednar shares as given by Elder Maxwell, “In his October 1997 general conference message, entitled “Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ,” Elder Maxwell taught with great authenticity: “As we confront our own … trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we ‘might not … shrink’—meaning to retreat or to recoil (D&C 19:18). Not shrinking is much more important than surviving! Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 22). Yet, this quote still doesn’t provide a solid answer as to why some suffer more than others; although, the quote does provide us with some insightful words to ponder and to meditate upon with regard to our individual trials and hardships of life.
Elder Bednar continues with this thought, “Elder Maxwell’s answer to my question caused me to reflect on the teachings of Elder Orson F. Whitney, who also served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire” (quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle , 98).
In the New Testament epistle, Romans chapter 5, Paul declares to us that he glorifies in his personal trials and tribulations because they provided him with experience, patience, and hope. As we contemplate our own lives we need to recognize there are two main reasons why we experience trials. The first reason is due to our personal choice. We made a decision that resulted in the following outcome, whether good or bad. The other reason, life happens. We did nothing ourselves to receive the trial, but due to the personal choice of others, the weather, etc…we experience trial and tribulation (e.g. laid off at work, trying to find a new job, how am I going to pay for school). If we are experiencing trials as a result of our personal choice, our agency (e.g. breaking the commandments), then we must make the choice to change our life style to conform with God’s wisdom. If our trials by our personal choice are due to individual righteousness (e.g. keeping the commandments), then we must learn to endure and reread the Lord’s words to Joseph Smith in D&C 122-123. If our trials and tribulations are a result of the current telestial world we live in, then we must learn to endure and trust in God. At times though, this trust can be difficult to give because it doesn’t appear very fair.
To conclude my thoughts, I will share this last statement from Elder Bednar’s, “I do not know why some people learn the lessons of eternity through trial and suffering—while others learn similar lessons through rescue and healing. I do not know all of the reasons, all of the purposes, and I do not know everything about the Lord’s timing. With Nephi, you and I can say that we “do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17). However, we do know that God loves his children.