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Personal Tragedy

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We often hear about natural and manmade disasters in people’s lives. One does not need to look far from Rexburg Idaho, the remains of Teton Dam, to find the remnants of tragedy.

Why do we have tragedy in our lives? Why do we have man-made and natural disasters? The answer I believe is to understand that free agency is natural. The poor choices of people do indeed cause pain to another people.

President Monson said, “Political machinations ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity, and left with a feeling of failure”

Quote from: Ensign » 2000 » May - Your Eternal Voyage President Thomas S. Monson

The drunk driver who kills or injures another driver, the airline pilot that neglects to set the flaps correctly at take off; Both are examples of free agency which is just as natural and right to Heavenly Father as the hurricane, the tsunami, the flood.

Why is it that sometimes he protects us from the poor decisions of others, and other times he does not?

Perhaps God allows tragedy and trials to occur in our lives not because they’re easy or because they’re desired, but because they help us love.

We will someday, after we have passed through this life, remember ourselves in the pre-earth life and compare that with who we at that point in the future. I believe we will be amazed at what God has accomplished. And while our growth was not easy, and took some personal tragedy to hone us, it nonetheless occurred.

“Every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.”

Quote from: Come What May, and Love It Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

In the past, in church, we didn't talk much about personal tragedy. Today we are noticing more and more the church is talking about it perhaps so that we have a better chance of learning from it. There have been number of church videos in recent years...

In these personal tragedies, there is one common thread.... free agency of the parties involved. When someone chooses to crash their life into yours, they are acting on their free agency. Our reaction to the event is our free agency. Although there are times when we are spared through divine intervention there also times when we are not.

When we have tragedies in our lives, we can choose to talk to those around us; our friends, our bishop or home teacher. They help us sort out our challenges, and overcome them.

One thing to remember is this …

From: Come What May, and Love It Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”

There may be some who think that General Authorities rarely experience pain, suffering, or distress. If only that were true. While every man and woman on this stand today has experienced an abundant measure of joy, each also has drunk deeply from the cup of disappointment, sorrow, and loss. The Lord in His wisdom does not shield anyone from grief or sadness.

For me, the Lord has opened the windows of heaven and showered blessings upon my family beyond my ability to express. Yet like everyone else, I have had times in my life when it seemed that the heaviness of my heart might be greater than I could bear.

So, the next time a tragedy happens in our lives, remember the friends and family to help you through it. But also remember that these challenges are not a punishment, but are for our own learning. Sharing them with others helps all of us to learn and prepare as well.

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