~Everything Does NOT Happen For A Reason~
When I hear someone say, “Everything happens for a reason,” what he or she often means is, “Everything happens for a divine reason.” This phrase is most often said to explain or explain away events both joyful and tragic. The underlying theological assumptions are: “God is in complete control. God has a plan and I just have to get with the plan.”
The statement, “Everything happens for a reason,” has a number of potential effects.
- It comforts people who assume there is one single plan.
- It is cruel to people who wonder why God is so harsh to them.
- It lets people off the hook for decisions they made that have brought them to a situation.
Some of the cruelest words said to me at a time of deep grief were, “It’s God’s will.” It is presumptuous for any of us to think we know God’s will completely. Discerning God’s hope for our lives requires study of scripture, time in prayer, time in conversation with the community of faith and yes, even time in worship.
It is a cruel god who has a blue print for our life and locks it away so we have to figure it out in order to find meaning. Instead, I believe in a God who is a living God, one who is a companion in the unfolding of life. This God is revealed in the life and ministry of Jesus, our brother who is willing to take us by the hand and walk with us through our life choices.
There are multiple choices we can make about life everyday. Some of them are good and some not so good. Most of the time, is never just one right choice. I don’t believe God is that rigid or harsh.
If you are someone who does believe everything happens for a reason and that brings you comfort, that’s fine. I invite you to consider other ways you can comfort other people for whom these words distance God from them.
The Christian life is an adventure, a holy adventure as we are discovering this season of Lent. An adventure is multi-faceted: exciting, hopeful, scary, dangerous, exhilarating, even peaceful. God seeks to be our companion along the way, not to control, but to support and invite into the many different ways we might partner with God for the care of creation and the children of God in it.