Everything Happens For a Reason (or so they reason)

Everything happens for a reason or so the saying goes. But in a world filled with meaningless violence and natural disasters, can this saying really be true? And is there Scriptural basis for this claim?

Before we determine whether this statement is true or not, we must determine what it means. Usually this saying is quoted after hearing bad news or discussing a difficult situation. For example, someone might tell her friend that her husband just filed for divorce or her son was involved in a car accident. Inevitably, it seems, the friend will reply, “You know that everything happens for a reason.” In other words, whatever evil or heartbreaking event occurs in your life, there is a Supreme Intelligent Being orchestrating every event in the world in order that some good can come out of it all in the end. This reasoning has a fatal flaw, for while it acknowledges an omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing) God, it leaves no room for a God of justice. If everything happens to bring about good for everybody no matter how they behave, how is that fair? Is God then working for the good of Osama bin Laden?

Romans 8:28 clarifies this issue. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Notice who this verse is talking about: “those who love God” and “are called according to His purpose.” Those who do not love God or answer God’s call do not receive the same promise. Some scholars believe that this is talking about heaven – that all things will end up well because those who love God will end up in heaven. Other scholars (including myself) believe that God watches out for His people and, though bad things happen to good people, God has a way of turning it all around for good. That doesn’t mean you can expect a leprechaun to hand you a pot of gold after a few bad things happen to you, but you can be confident that God is in control and has your best interests in mind

Joseph had a hard life. His brothers betrayed him, sold him into slavery, and convinced their dad that he was dead. When his brothers came to him years later begging for food in the midst of a severe famine, Joseph viewed the moment not as a good time to avenge what they had done to him, but as proof that God had used them to accomplish His will and save all of them. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” I’m sure Joseph didn’t think that slavery and prison and betrayal were “good” things to experience, but he realized in that moment that God was the One that orchestrated the events in his life that led to the salvation of him and his family. Joseph even consoles his brothers in Genesis 45:5 saying, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”

Things happen to Christians for reasons that may never be explained, but they are ultimately for our own good. God can even use senseless events in our lives to achieve His purposes. Knowing this can bring us comfort in the midst of our suffering because we trust Him to look out for us even if our lives seem to be spinning out of control. We can only hope that when something tragic happens to our non-Christian friends, it will lead them to a relationship with God and His purpose for their lives. Only then can they be confident that even trials can be turned to gold.

He’s brought me here, where things are clear
And trials turn to gold
He shared with me, his victory
He won in days of old

O Lord, I don’t deserve
The riches of your word
But you’ve changed my filthy rags
To linen, white as snow

The view from here is nothing near
To what it is for you
I tried to see your plan for me
But I only acted like I knew

O Lord, forgive the times
I tried to read your mind
Cause you said if I’d be still
Then I would hear your voice

My Lord, my king, my urge to sing
And praise the things above
No words can say the glorious way
You changed me with your love

He’s brought me low, so I could know
The way to reach the heights
To forsake my dreams, my self esteem
And give up all my rights

With each one that I lay down
A jewel’s placed in my crown
Cause his love, the things above
Is all we’ll ever need

He’s brought me here, where things are clear
And trials turn to gold

(Trials Turned to Gold by Keith Green)

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