“It must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter” (2 Ne. 2:15). If Adam and Eve had not partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge “they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin” (2 Ne. 2:23).
The Savior taught about suffering. When Pilate killed some Galilaeans, some wondered if they deserved their fate. The Savior said, “Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay” (Luke 12:2-3). He continued by telling the listeners, “But, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 12:3). Those who suffer did not necessarily sin but those who sin and don’t repent, suffer. What is unfortunate is when people suffer as a result of their own sins because that suffering is preventable. We all sin but none of us have to sin.
We don’t seek suffering but we don’t shy away from it when we understand the meaning and purpose of suffering. Not all suffering is positive though. Much suffering in this world results from sin – our own or others’. When we suffer due to the sins of others we still have a choice as to how we will bear the suffering and what we will learn from it. It’s unfortunate when people suffer as a result of the sins of others. It’s a reality of life but unfortunate. Many times suffering can lead to repentance: “For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness” (Alma 25:6).
There is a story told of a young man who wanted to see the world and experience life. He was tired of what he thought was a boring and simple life. He went to his father for some money – his portion of the inheritance he was to receive. His older brother watched as the younger took the money and left. This young man spent all of his money pursuing pleasure. Money and pleasure were his gods – he wasted his strength worshiping them. When this man’s money was spent he looked around for more. Finding none, he thought he might get a job; however, he had few employable skills. He had spent all of his money “living it up” and no longer had any for the basics of life. He was miserable and suffering. He felt ashamed of what he had done. He was too ashamed to return home to face his father and elder brother. The man was so destitute he begged for food, even scraps that unclean animals rejected. Finding no solace, no sustenance, he finally stopped being prideful; he accepted responsibility for his actions and started the journey home in humility. When approaching his home, he came with the attitude that maybe his father would accept him back as a servant, for he felt unworthy to be called son. When the prodigal approached, his father saw him from afar and ran to him. The father embraced him and wept upon his shoulder. As the son contritely begged to be received as a servant, his father called for his best robe. He called to have a feast prepared – a celebration of his son’s homecoming and repentance. The father expressed great joy over his son’s return.
One main moral of this story is that with sin and selfishness comes sorrow and suffering. The prodigal son was not happy in his pursuit of pleasure. He experienced momentary happiness but quickly began to suffer for his sins. As he expressed contrition and penitence, the prodigal son found joy in his return home; he found forgiveness and love.