The Egyptians have so much to be proud of this week. They have peacefully brought down a dictator and called for democracy. I have been heartened by the protests and am hopeful that a stable democracy will emerge from this situation. I also realize that there is also the possibility that will not happen. With the military taking control, it is not yet clear if a military dictatorship will emerge or if the military will ensure fair elections.
I would love to say that God will make sure the right thing happens, but God does not always ensure the outcomes we would like. There are not many guarantees in earthly life. He allows dictators, torture, and mass genocide without swooping down to stop it. He has to allow us the chance for us to decide for ourselves what is going to happen. One of the most precious things God has given us is the chance to choice. He does not force us to make decisions. He wants us to be “agents unto [our]selves” (D&C 29:39). This ensures the amazing enabling power that comes from making our own decisions.
Like the proponents of democracy, God believes that we should be free to choose what we want. At the same time, he will not instantly strike down someone who makes a horrible choice. Matthew 5:45 explains, “your Father which is in heaven…maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” There are many reasons for this—His mercy and love for everyone despite their choices and the fact that if God rewarded only the good everyone would be good. Unfortunately, this also means awful things happen. I do not know how He can stand it sometimes. There are evil things that deny comprehension. Yet he allows them.
I also know that while such horrible things do happen that God can make good out of any bad thing. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ He can even heal us from the most horrible things that could ever happen to us. While there may be no meaning in or anything to learn from torture, the Savior can heal you from it. This life is also a “time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 32:34), which means that we have a chance to make mistakes and learn from them. The Atonement will also make up for our slips and wrong decisions. I have felt this power in my life, the incomprehensible power of forgiveness and healing. In allowing us to make our own choices, God has also given us a way out from the inevitable messes that follow.
In contrast to bad decisions, because of our ability to decide, when we choose good things we pick them for ourselves and not because anyone has forced us to. This is an amazing, freeing gift. People can choose to make courageous and difficult right decisions, like the right to protest when their civil liberties are taken away. They can turn a legacy of torture into something positive. By calling for democracy and fair elections, the Egyptians are echoing the rights that God grants everyone—the freedom to choose.