If you are an atheist, then what ever you are carrying is just a random toss of the dice. But that's not enough of an explanation for me. I believe in a greater power and struggle to find purpose and meaning in this life. I believe in another life after death and that this life is somehow preparing me for that one.
I think we are given these crosses to bear to make us better individuals and to teach us how to improve this earth for others. We are supposed to learn from these burdens and use that knowledge to help our fellow man. Use what you got! Our difficulties help us be more compassionate and understanding of each other. But more than that, they give us unique insight into others suffering from similar burdens.
I love the story of SPECS4US! A mother of a child with Down Syndrome was having trouble finding glasses that fit her face. Knowing that most children with Down Syndrome will require glasses, she knew this was a huge problem, She used her knowledge and experience to design classes with an adjustable bridge. Brilliant! This is what we were meant to do with our burdens!
But if this greater power exists, why doesn't he just wave a magic want and make our burdens disappear? I've thought long and hard on this one as well. When my child is struggling with homework, do I do it for her? It would be easy for me. I could get it done in minutes. Almost like waving a magic wand. But if I do, she won't learn anything. She will be ill prepared for the next lesson that builds upon this one. I can sit beside her while she works. I can repeat the lesson and give some guidance when she is lost, but I cannot do the work for her. She must struggle though it in order to truly learn.
Likewise, in order to truly learn and grow as human beings, we have to struggle through our difficulties. God is there to guide, to hold our hand, to repeat the lesson, but not to wave a magic wand and take all our troubles away. I believe, that in some way I don't fully understand, this is preparing us for the next life.
I'm still left with one big question. What about good people who die from horrible, painful diseases? What are they or we supposed to learn from that? I don't know. I can't even imagine. I hope I get the chance to ask that one in person one day.