Does “Everything happen for a reason”?
Things do happen for a reason, but what is the reason and who is the author of everything that happens?
About 8 years ago, my wife four children, a friend and I were hanging out in our house when a massive storm rolled in and a bolt of lightning exploded outside our window. The loud thundering boom and bolt of fire terrified us all as it hit and damaged portions of our home. It was costly, but fortunately, we were all safe.
“It happened for a reason”, one might conclude. Yes, I am sure it did, but what reason and who initiated this life-threatening lighting strike?
Insurance companies call damaging weather like this an “Act of God”. Was it? Did God strike our house with Lightning? Why would He want to do that?
When my brother Dave died of a disease 22 years ago, some may have suggested that “It happened for a reason.” I imagine it did, but the reasons are more complicated than this quick quip may suggest.
I would imagine that there is a reason for all the complex and traumatic things that take place in people’s lives, but is the reason as easy to explain away as this phrase implies?
All In God’s Plan?
I have a friend who lost his brother in a car accident. As you could imagine, it has been very difficult to process such a tragedy and loss. His heart is deeply broken.
He shared this with me while processing this tragedy: “…I still don’t really get it and it’s still hard for me but I understand that it’s all in God’s plan and that everything happens for a reason….”
Was this tragedy in God’s plan? Did God cause this accident?
Who Is Behind the Reasons for Everything That Happens?
Is God the reason?
Our house was struck by lightning twice within a two-year span. Neither my wife nor I had ever seen a house struck by lightning before or since (we moved from that house soon after). Did God cause our house to be struck by lighting?
Why would God want to strike His children with lightning? What loving Father would want to do something like that? Not the One who encountered me with His powerful love and mercy 29 years ago (and many times since).
Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11
God, the Great I Am, gives good gifts to His Children. He is good.
Isn’t God Sovereign?
Yes, God is sovereign. “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you.”2 Samuel 7:22
God knows the beginning from the end. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13
He knows everything about us: “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew: 10:30.
God knows everything. He is Sovereign.
Because of God’s sovereignty, it is easy to conclude that “Everything happens for a reason”.
But isn’t that a big jump to make to say that everything that takes place, both good and evil, happens by God and for His reasons?
Here is what the Catechism says about God’s sovereignty:
CCC 306 “God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation… For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.
CCC 2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us…
God’s sovereignty is in Co-operation with us, as mankind. We have a choice concerning how we steward the Life He has granted us.
Is God the Author of Suffering?
Suffering, trauma, and death are tough to grasp. It is probably one of the most misunderstood mysteries of our faith. Scripture tells us that we will go through trials (see Romans 5:1-6 and James 1:2-5).
Because we go through trials and there is very real suffering upon the earth, many believe that suffering is from God. Is that true?
In his encyclical “On Human Suffering” Saint John Paul II reminds us that every suffering is an experience of evil (Paragraph 7). Suffering is evil, God is not the author of evil.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about suffering:
CCC 272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil… It is in Christ’s Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.
CCC 418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called “concupiscence”).
CCC 1505 …On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,” of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.
Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem suffering.
God Is Good
I was in a meeting and the speaker kept saying “God is good. He cannot give what He does not have…”
At first, I sarcastically dismissed it within my own heart and mind, yet the phrase kept repeating within me: “God is good. He cannot give what he does not have.”
I knew God was good because I experienced His goodness (I encountered His love and goodness in a profound way when I was 24 years of age and I experienced His goodness many times since), yet I also experienced hardships that formed beliefs that left me wrestling with God’s goodness. I simply didn’t understand His inherent goodness due to my own faulty mindsets.
I believed that everything that happened to me had a reason for it and if God is sovereign then He must be the one causing these traumatic circumstances to happen. It was easy to blame God for everything.
When I heard this speaker, who knew and loved God deeply, say “God is good. He cannot give what He does not have…” It challenged my mindset.
It took some time, but the Holy Spirit started to bring about a major paradigm shift within me that began to change my view of God. It has not been a quick and sudden change, but I have been able to see the truth that God is good. He Cannot give what He does not have.
Truth from The Church
What does the scripture and the Church say on the matter?
CCC 385: “God is infinitely good and all his works are good.”
2 Samuel 7:28: “Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”
If Scripture and the church say that God is good, then it must be true. God is good!
God Works All Things to Good
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
There is a big difference between things working together for good and God is the cause of all things.
One is Biblical, the other is not.
A friend and teammate of my daughter has these words pinned on her Twitter account:
“Everything happens for a reason” is not in the Bible but “God promises to work all things to good for those who love him” is. Romans 8:28
Who Is the Author of Evil?
Many have blamed God for the evil that takes place in our world, yet that is a too casual of a conclusion to make.
Yes, it is true, “Everything happens for a reason”. But not everything that happens is by God’s design and plan.
God cannot give what He does not have. God does not have evil in Him. He, therefore, cannot give evil.
CCC 385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? “I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution”, said St. Augustine, and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For “the mystery of lawlessness” is clarified only in the light of the “mystery of our religion”. The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace. We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.
As we “fix our eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror” we discover words of truth like these words from Jesus recorded in the book of John:
Jesus said, “The Thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10
The evil one is the author of Evil.
Jesus is the author of Life.
Inspect the Fruit
“a tree is recognized by its fruit.” Matthew: 12:33
Perhaps it is true that “Everything Happens for a Reason”, but that does not mean that God is the author of everything that happens.
In order to know the author behind everything that happens we should be diligent to inspect the fruit:
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Matthew 7:16-18
If it is good, it is from God.
If it is evil, it is from the evil one.
Jesus brings life. The evil one brings evil.
Jesus conquered sin, evil and suffering through His death and resurrection. Jesus came to redeem suffering and give us abundant life.
God is good. Period. That’s who He is and that is all He has to bring to those who love Him.
Next time you hear (or say) the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” stop and examine the fruit. Is it good or evil? The fruit will tell you who the author of the reason is.
God cannot give evil. He doesn’t have it. He is good!
“Everything Happens for a Reason”. Whose reason and for what purpose?