Does Everything Happen for a Reason? (part 1)

A photo by Ben White. unsplash.com/photos/9O1oQ9SzQZQ

In our fast-paced, sound-byte world, people want (and give) quick answers with no real thought to the complexities of the question.

Consider, for instance, the following question:

“Does everything happen for a reason?”

For the past several weeks, I have been rolling this topic around in my mind after reading an article that a few of my friends shared (and apparently liked) on Facebook. It is not my normal practice to criticize the writing of another person on this blog, but in this case, the writer’s conclusion was so grossly fallacious it demanded addressing. Even more distressing was the fact that people bought into it with such wholehearted approval. The title of the article read, “Dear Christians, stop saying ‘Everything happens for a reason.”

Initially, I thought the author was rebuking Christians for being foolish with their words during times of grief. If this had been the aim of the article, I would have agreed. When a person is grieving, they have no desire to hear you and Annie singing, “The sun’ll come out, tomorrow…” I know the intention is to give hope, but often those who grieve just need your arms around them, your shoulder to cry on and the knowledge that you’re there for them. They don’t need platitudes or life lessons. So, in such cases, I would say keep your mouth shut and your shoulder available.

Unfortunately, this author ardently clung to the premise that everything does NOT happen for a reason. I thoroughly disagree. Every effect has a cause. Either you believe that you are subject to happenstance or you have confidence in God’s control. If you believe we are the victims of random absurdity, you may want to look into existentialism as your new philosophy.

My goal here at Elihu’s Corner is to help people come to know God more deeply and to live in such a way as to give Him glory. When people say, “everything does NOT happen for a reason,” they are, in effect, implying that God is impotent or uncaring. They think He doesn’t care about the ‘small’ stuff, only the ‘big’ stuff. Obviously they consider themselves wise enough to recognize what exactly is “big” and “small.” They do not know the Lord. I would venture so far as to say they worship a false God that they themselves have created, because that is not how God has revealed Himself through His word.

I could, of course, give you a short answer to the question ‘Does everything happen for a reason?’ but I prefer to use a more in-depth approach to help you, my dear readers, understand the importance of truly knowing the Lord. How you perceive God dramatically changes how you approach life.

Let us begin, then, with our first question:

What do you believe about God?

No doubt, you thought this would be an easy question…

How you answer this question forms the basis for our later discussion.

[Note: If you do not believe there IS a God, please save your debate for another forum. For purposes of this article, we are assuming that God exists. If you wish to derail this post with a debate on the existence of God, I will delete your comments without apology.]

Here is a portion of what I have concluded, based on the Bible and what I observe about the world:

God is the Creator

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

~ Genesis 1.1, ESV

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.”

~ Psalm 19.1, NKJV

The Bible is chock-full of declarations that our world was designed by God. I see His work when I observe the intricate details and harmony of the world. It shouts loudly when I study science. Others see these details and, of course, come to a different conclusion, namely, evolution. If you believe God created the world, do you think He has the power to get involved with it?

God cares about people

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

~ Matthew 6.31-34, NKJV

God does care about what we experience in this life. He wants the experiences of this life to shape us into better, stronger, faith-filled individuals just as a parent allows their child to endure certain experiences for their growth. He cares.

God is loving

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ Romans 8.31-39, NKJV

God is both just and merciful.

For according to the work of a man he will repay him,
and according to his ways he will make it befall him.
Of a truth, God will not do wickedly,
 and the Almighty will not pervert justice.

~ Job 34.11-12, ESV

 

Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.

~ Joel 2.13, ESV

Our God could choose to give us justice, but through Christ we receive His mercy. Those who reject God’s mercy receive His justice.

God didn’t make—nor does he want—puppets.

God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

~ Acts 17.24-28, NKJV

God wants us to love Him of our own free will. Everything we have on this earth belongs to Him, except for one thing—our heart. We can keep it to ourselves or give it to Him with abandon. He wants our freely offered love, not robotic subservience.

God is involved.

 The lot is cast in the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord, directs his steps.

~ Proverbs 16.9, NKJV

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

~ Matthew 10.29-30, NKJV


There are many Christians who believe that God created the world, wound it up (so to speak), set it spinning, and has watched with His hands in the air ever since. That premise is fallacious because the scriptures are filled with God’s dealings with man.

How many times has God interfered with the course of nature to achieve His purpose or in answer to prayer? How many times were people healed, not because of some curative earthly source, but by the mercy of God? How many times has God spoken to His people to provide assurance?

Either you believe that God is omnipotent, or you believe He is impotent. Either you believe He loves and cares for us or you think He is the spectator of some sadistic drama.

If you believe He is impotent, you should probably stop praying because it is a useless exercise. Keep on deluding yourself that we are subject to chance, happenstance, luck or even fate. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

If you truly believe in God’s omnipotence, then it follows that He does cause or allow things to happen for a reason.

In the next post, we will discuss the following question: Does the presence of evil negate the power of God?

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20 thoughts on “Does Everything Happen for a Reason? (part 1)

    • Elihu September 5, 2016 / 09:29

      Thank you, Vincent! I hope you are doing well.

      Like

  1. Salvageable September 5, 2016 / 08:21

    Elihu, I agree that in the divine economy, everything happens for a reason. I agree even more strongly that such a statement is crassly inappropriate during a period of suffering or grief. God has no obligation to tell us the details of his plan. In Scripture he has already told us everything we need to know about his plan. The book of Job vividly illustrates the point you make in the opening section of this post. Job’s friends comforted him by their presence, but they afflicted him by their well-intended words (which did, in fact, follow the pattern of “everything happens for a reason”). I’d far rather be an existential Christian living in a world incomprehensible to me but in the hands of an omnipotent and loving God than a smug Christian thinking that all the reasons are within my grasp. J.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Elihu September 5, 2016 / 09:28

      True. But the reasoning of his friends was merely that those bad things would not have happened if he had been righteous, which is erroneous. Oddly enough the Pharisees also determined that misfortune was the result of the individual’s sin. Bad things happen to righteous people and we can come up with any number of reasons ‘why.’ Of ultimate importance is to recognize, as you said in your comment, that God doesn’t have to explain himself (though I think we can gain a lot of perspective from the Bible). We do, however, need to make it a practice of trusting that He has our ultimate spiritual good in mind.

      The next several posts will deal with the issue of sin, pride, and the brevity of life. All these issues, when examined together give us a clearer picture into the question, “does everything happen for a reason.” It’s a very complex issue!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Duncan September 6, 2016 / 04:29

    Elihu,the best line in your writing is stop giving lessons, and give your shoulder.
    How true! Many times we tend to preach rather than listening to the one in tears. I believe this act itself can bring many people to salvation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu September 6, 2016 / 04:40

      Truth! And it’s something I always need to check myself on because I have a tendency to talk too much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Duncan September 13, 2016 / 00:51

        I think we all do. Specially when we know little bit of bible, we tend to act and speak like scholars.
        Taming our tongue is a hard task but that’s the expectation. Everyone needs to be careful while speaking otherwise we may loose a soul.:)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elihu September 6, 2016 / 09:05

        Yes! I appreciate that so very much. I am honored and humbled. 😊

        Like

  3. beckielindsey September 7, 2016 / 19:43

    Thanks for tackling this subject! I look forward to your further posts. I believe I read the article you’re referring to.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. thoughtsong7 September 19, 2016 / 06:00

    Many shared that article with me as well. I felt the same way as you did and have had it rolling around in my heart as well. Thanks for laying out such a well stated Biblical response. I look forward to reading the rest of the series – but I have to think a little longer on this first one. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu September 19, 2016 / 06:13

      I’m glad you found this helpful! I just completed the third and final post in this series. Thank you for reading and may the Lord bless you!

      Like

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