Why Does God Let Good People Suffer?

Each Sunday, I go thru old General Conference talks and BYU Devotional Speeches and print off copies of the talks I’d like to read. Then, I let those talks direct my personal study each morning during the week.

When I find a talk that I really enjoy, I also like to get an audio copy of it so I can hear the emotion in the voice. This morning was one of those talks.

In 1955, Spencer W. Kimball (who was then a member of the Quorom of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk titled “Tragedy or Destiny?” It was directed toward those who wonder why “God would allow bad things to happen to good people.” In it, he offers comfort to those who may be suffering and also gentle rebukes to those who may be bitter over sickness or untimely death. He speaks of the “big picture.” From the talk:

If we looked at mortality as the whole of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life would be calamity. But if we look upon life as an eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past and on into the eternal post-death future, then all happenings may be put in proper perspective.

He goes on to talk about how if a person had all power and authority to have their prayers answered without respect to the will of the Lord, than imagine all that would have failed. Would you not have saved Abinadi from the flames or Joseph Smith from the bullet? In doing so, you would have robbed them of the martyr’s reward. Or the ultimate example is whether you could have stayed your hand when Christ was suffering in the garden and on the cross. By “saving” him there, it would have meant certain death for all mankind.

It boils down to one thing. The greatest gift from God is our free agency. This allows us to choose between good or evil. Unfortunately, this means that the poor choices of some can hurt and affect the righteous hearts of others. But I know that even in those times of suffering or pain, God is very aware of you and very much in control.

It’s amazing to me that this talk was given in 1955 but is still so applicable to many of the thoughts and events of today. You can get this talk as a free download here.