When I moved in New Age circles, and someone was going through something difficult, the typical response was that difficulties were lessons for us. I heard commentary like, ‘we all choose what lessons we want presented to us before we are born’ or ‘the universe sent you this as a lesson’.
These claims of some predetermined or omnipotent choice to receive difficulty in our lives is speculation. That said, the goal of such claims is to recognize life’s difficulties can become valuable opportunities if we choose, and to attempt to answer the question, ‘why do shitty things keep happening to me?’.
There is another perspective here that can address such questions in a less speculative fashion. Most— if not all— of us (I include myself in this category) have so much to learn, that pretty much anything that comes our way will present some difficulty for us.
So when ‘lessons’ keep showing up, it need not be evidence of divine intervention or that we somehow, at some previous time, chose these things to happen to us. It’s evidence of just how little we know and how much we have to learn. And shifting our perspective from ‘this sucks’ to ‘what is my lesson here?’ isn’t necessarily reflective of some divine truth, but rather it puts us in a better position to make it through things.