“Everything happens for a reason”?

Can I be real with you? How we use this phrase is crap. I’m sorry if that doesn’t sound spiritual or mature, but it's true. Maybe I should replace it with the Greek word, σκύβαλον. So I will say it again, how we use “everything happens for a reason” is pure σκύβαλον(Click here to know what this Greek word means.)

While this phrase should probably be never used again (especially how we use it), there is some truth behind it. We use this phrase most often to comfort those who are hurting and suffering in a hard time. Do you want to know the true reason why (bad) things happen? The reason is that we live in a messed up world, a world full of broken things. This world is full of disease and death, suffering and sadness. You can ask anyone, the world is broken; that is the reason bad things happens.

We attempt to back up this phrase with the verse Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The problem is we live in a individualistic culture and when we read this verse, we almost habitually interpret it as applying to specifically to ourselves. The truth, however, is that the "good" referred to in this verse is the corporate good, not the individual. This verse explains that God will use even the terrible things in this broken world for the corporate good. This does not take away the pain, but it can give us a glimpse into the future.

I am not denying that God is control, but I am also not saying that He specifically wanted suffering and pain and therefore makes bad things happen. Let me explain. Did God want sin to enter the world? Was that part of His perfect master plan? The same question applies to Nero, Hitler, and the Crusades. None of this was God’s plan. Could God have reached down into creation and changed it? Yes, maybe, and no. Yes, God has the ability to do anything. Maybe, we should realize that He wants us to be His citizens and coworkers, and be a part of the solution. And no, God’s purpose is not to overthrow our freewill, which would remove the ability and capacity of true love.

SIDENOTE to my Calvinistic Friends: Every passage of scripture that we run to that “proves” God predestines is found in the plural (in the Greek). This means that God planned from the foundations of the world that we corporately are to walk in His way. This doesn’t mean that this world is a big cosmic chess match. God doesn't specifically pick who will be on each side, then lets the game play out until He says enough and put all the pieces back on the respective sides, “saved” and “condemned”.

Please everyone, never say this phrase again, especially to a hurting person. It is not true or helpful in how you are using it. The beauty of the Kingdom of God is not that “God knows best” or “there must be a reason” but that it is upside down. It is upside down because all of the horrible things that happen in this world aren’t the end. God is making all things new. It is beautiful when we are going through the hardest times and in such we have the ability to be blessed in a way that those “who have it all together” will never experience. Jesus says, blessed are the poor, broken and hurting, and says woe to those who are rich, well and happy. This only makes sense when we see the upside down nature of the Kingdom. A Kingdom who's King came to serve. A King who conquered through death. A King who calls the weak and humble to be coworkers. A King who makes even death no longer the worst thing in the world.
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