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Chaplain's Corner

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But Why Do Bad Things Happen

10 Sep 2021 | Lt. Brian Payne Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

One thing I have noticed in my time as a chaplain, and in life, is that no one seems to escape tragedy, stress or depression. Why is this? Why do bad things happen to those who don’t seem to deserve it? What a great question. The only way I can answer this is from my theological perspective as a Christian and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Gethsemane they were place in a state where they could never get sick or die. In that place everything remained stagnant, with no growth, no adventure, and no true joy. In the garden there were two trees, “the Tree of Life” and “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Most miss the name of the second tree - the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Knowing good pertains to something wonderful. Like eating a really good steak, going for a swim, falling in love, and having fun with friends. While the evil part from the tree puts us through experiences that will put us on our knees.

The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil seems to give Adam and Eve something only God knew. As Adam and Eve are being removed from the comfort of the Garden of Eden there is a comment that is made, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”(Gen 3:22) Wait, what? God knows good and evil? So perhaps Adam and Eve realized something, they couldn’t become better and greater people, like God in heaven, if they didn’t know what God knew. It appears experiencing the good and the bad and everything in between has something more to it. Perhaps, something profound. Maybe, something much deeper than we realize. Because the good cannot be fully appreciate without the bad.

I have come to notice that on a practical level, when something truly horrible happens to us we tend to become humble. If handled appropriately, we find ourselves coming closer to those that we love. Many times, we reach out and start seeing each other as people. Consider Sept. 11, 2001, the Boston bombing, in fact, in some cases we can see what we have learned from the past year from COVID-19.

When I sit and council with people on the worst day of their life, there is no doubt a storm being faced in that moment. Traumatic experiences have a tendency to break us, even gut us open. But I can’t deny that it is probably one of the best teachers out there. When it happens, we learn lessons we never forget.

I will close with a quote from Thomas S. Monson, who was the president of my church for some time. When his wife died it was a painfully sad event for him and amongst his pain he said:

“Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than what we were, more understanding than what we were, more empathetic than what we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow.”

The Chaplain’s Corner covers everything faith related. Facts not attributed are purely the opinion of the writer.