Does Everything Happen for a Reason?
When faced with difficult circumstances, I often hear people say, “Everything happens for a reason.” I can understand why we want that to be true. In the midst of relationship problems, illness, death, and disappointment we want to believe that what’s happening to us has great meaning and will ultimately work out for our good.
But does this belief line up with the Word of God? I’ve been doing some digging and I think the answer is yes and no.
To get to the bottom of this issue, we need to start out by asking, “Why do bad things happen?” It turns out, there is no simple answer.
The sin that saturates our culture is bound to impact us negatively. Death has been a part of the equation of life ever since Eve took that bite of the forbidden fruit. Very often, we face painful circumstances simply because we live in a fallen world.
There are also times when the going gets tough because of poor choices. Sometimes the things we do (or choose not to do) make our lives more difficult. Other times, the choices that others make impact us in ways that are painful or destructive.
Sometimes life is tough because our world is broken and our choices aren’t perfect. That’s not the same as the idea that God brings difficult circumstances into our lives to teach us something or to accomplish a higher purpose. The idea that God is sitting in heaven controlling everything that happens in order to achieve specific outcomes, doesn’t exactly match up with the character of God we find in Scripture. So, why do so many Christians believe that’s how it works? Here’s my best guess.
1. God is in control
In Job 42:1-2 we read “Then Job replied to the Lord: ‘ I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.’”
Daniel 4:35 says, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’"
Our circumstances don’t surprise Him. The Bible does tell us that nothing happens that He doesn’t allow or know about. But I’m not sure that’s the same as the notion that He causes everything.
2.God can work it out.
Romans 8:28 says,”We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Bad things happen for a variety of reasons. Scripture doesn’t tell us that God orchestrates our circumstances with a specific outcome in mind, but it does offer us hope in the face of trials. God is able to take our troubles and redeem them. He can and will work them out for our good.
3.Trials produce fruit.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
If you’re looking for hope in the midst of tough times, cling to this promise. Difficult circumstances have the unique ability to strengthen us. Through trials we develop deeper faith, increased patience and the learned ability to persevere. Instead of clinging to the idea that God is in heaven calling the shots in every situation, hold on to the hope that He is able to work everything out to make you more like Him.
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