During our weekly small group meeting, the topic of our discussion focused on Spiritual Warfare. However, in the midst of our discussion it happened, the ever-popular phrase that often comes up delivered with the sincerest of intentions was brought front and center to the middle of the stage during our meeting. We have all heard or may have on occasion even said it ourselves to others “everything happens for a reason”. The universal phrase that is personalized with compassion and often wrapped in empathy by family, well-meaning friends, and caring loved ones, believed to be a buffer for hurt, a beacon of light for those suffering emotional pain, often raised in the face of the dark and unimaginably painful things we inevitably experience in this life due to the effects of our broken world. Is there real comfort to be found in that moment of grief in hearing the words “everything happens for a reason”? I don’t think so.
Most people remember the natural law of “cause-and-effect” from elementary school many even have firsthand knowledge of this common law of nature. The laws of cause and effect would assume that there is a reason “cause” for all things that happen, “effect”. So, at one level, the idea that everything happens for a reason is true. The law of cause-and-effect believed by many to be the most certain and universal of all natural laws – simply put the law of cause-and-effect states that every material effect must have an adequate cause that existed before the effect. Causes never occur after the effect e.g., “It had begun to rain so Danielle and Jake had to run inside” the cause – it had begun to rain, the effect – Danielle and Jake run inside. Another way to view this law could be with the phrase, “everything happens for a reason”.
The natural law of cause and effect, even exist in a biblical perspective it is the law of sowing and reaping. All that we do is geared toward one of two things, an investment in the flesh or an investment in the Spirit. If we live life in the flesh we are governed by an entirely mechanistic world, everything is preordained because of its physical nature. Everything is matter and chemical, all things that happen are the coincidences of nature, there is no free will or independent decision making as we know it because everything man does is the result of chemical processes in their brains. Freedom is nothing more than an illusion. We shall reap whatever we have sown, and we shall reap in proportion to how we have sown. In fact, Paul said, “… A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” [Galatians 6:7–8]. This means that in every action we take or word we utter, whether good or evil, there are certain inevitable results that follow [Colossians 3:23–25].
God allows things to happen for His reason therefore if you are governed by Grace and the divine reality that exist outside of our material world; the only exceptions to the mechanical processes are God’s deliberate manipulation of the forces of nature whether we understand them or not. According to the bible, God is in control over His creation. [Psalm 135:6] says, “The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths”. However, does God’s sovereignty actually extend to what we do and the choices we make? On this issue, Paul asks a seemingly rhetorical question, “Who resists His will?” [Romans 9:19] with the answer obviously being “no one”. Does this mean that God is responsible for the evil acts that humanity commits? Absolutely not, we must above all, remember that God is good, just, loving, and merciful. Often things happen to us that we simply cannot understand. When the unthinkable happens it is God who bleeds along with you; who sits together with you in your agony and weeps, not causing your distress but providing a steady, holy presence in it.
There is no supernatural cause-and-effect experiment in progress from the Heavens specifically designed to do something to us or in us, but it is a time and place where we can respond and as we do, we are forever altered. Our pain does not have a predetermined purpose, but our pain will always yield valuable fruit. Instead of doubting God’s goodness, always trying to make logical sense out of His ways [Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Corinthians 2:9-11] our reaction should be to simply trust Him [Proverbs 3:5-6], we see God redeeming the evil acts of humanity using them to bring about good, even in the midst of evil, in a most breathtaking fashion. It is impossible for us to fully understand the dynamics of a holy God molding and shaping the will of finite man in unison with man’s own free will that He provides. Scripture is clear that God knows the future [Matthew 6:8; Psalm 139:1-4] and has total sovereign control over all things [Colossians 1:16-17; Daniel 4:35]. How these facts work together is impossible for a finite mind to comprehend [Romans 11:33-36].
When you find yourself in a position to offer words of comfort don’t, instead walk with the person in their grief and don’t try to dismiss it with mere words no matter the intent. I have come to the conclusion that I know what I don’t know when it comes to the things of God, even though I may not fully understand what I don’t comprehend, like why God won’t always remove burdens from me, but allow me to better see the opportunity provided through the tragedy. I also don’t know that everything happens for a reason, but I do understand there is meaning in how we respond to all things that happen to us, even when they start out not being good for us. Above all, I am certain I know and understand the Bible when it says that we must choose God or be eternally separated from Him and that alone is reason enough. to understand the law of things happening for a reason. Because – I am fearful of being separated from God, and the Effect- I will always and forever choose Him.