“Everything happens for a reason” is a popular phrase among Christians. Whether someone is facing infertility, divorce, a sick child, losing a home, or even cancer – this has become the Christian go-to phrase when we don’t know what to say.
While I do believe that everything happens for a reason, I don’t believe that it is always God’s reason.
I don’t believe that God gives cancer to someone who needs patience. I don’t believe God “slaps you in the face” with a devastating event like a car accident to get your attention “because he loves you so much”. I have heard this logic more than once.
In reality, our trials can be caused by a few different “reasons”:
We are given free will. We are free-range humans, if you will. Able to move around this planet making whatever decisions we choose – sometimes in God’s will, sometimes not so much. And there are some choices we can make that come with very natural consequences.
- If I choose to lie to my boss, I will get fired.
- If I steal from the government, I will go to jail.
- If you cheat on your spouse, he/she may leave you.
- If you smoke for 20 years, you may get lung cancer.
Sometimes, making a mistake may have a consequence. I once accidentally ran a red light and was in a bad car accident. This was during my seminary days and the concussion I received caused all of my study of the Hebrew language to drop out of my memory – during midterm week! I didn’t sin. I made a mistake. And it had major consequences.
In all of these instances, we are tempted to ask, “God why are you doing this to me?”
The sins of others
With this amazing freedom humanity has been given, someone else can choose a sinful action that causes us pain. A person can sin against you, and you suffer the consequence. Adultery, rape, identity theft are sins of this nature. I had a childhood friend that was killed by a drunk driver when she was a teenager. The “reason” it happened, was that the man behind the wheel broke the law and drove while intoxicated. His sin brought her family great loss - it wasn’t God “needing another angel in heaven”.
Sometimes, a trial we are going though IS God’s reason. He may be closing a door to an opportunity. Perhaps he knew that a certain relationship would hurt you. Maybe you didn’t get the job you wanted. Sometimes He takes us through a season of living by faith, or into a desert, or a time of pruning and testing, as we feel our way through the dark… and we are reminded of our need for Him.
If I were to be completely honest though, I would have to say that I think Satan is the root of many of our trials.
Kris Vallotton has this to say:
God often gets the blame for tragedy orchestrated by the devil.
And when we blame Him for every difficulty we face, it breaks his heart.
When Satan entered into humanity’s timeline, HE introduced sin, sickness and death to the world. Three things that before him didn’t exist. And those are the things he continues to propagate until the return of Christ.
Sin. Sickness. Death.
I have heard it said, “God only gives cancer to people who can handle it”. When Jesus was here he did not give out diseases. He was practically a celebrity, known for healing diseases! And many of the sicknesses were attributed to demons – so who do you suppose is behind sickness?
If we believe all sickness and hard times are from God alone, we don’t fight or flee the enemy (we ignore him), we don’t walk in repentance of our sin, and we don’t run to Jesus for healing, deliverance, or comfort.
How can we run to God for help and hope if we believe He caused our heartache in the first place?
Satan has a great work to accomplish in God’s creation, and sin, sickness and death are his greatest tools. But 1 john 3:8 tells us that the Son of God appeared to destroy the devil’s work. Not to assist him with it.
So when it comes to the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason”, I’m not saying it’s never God. But I AM saying it’s not ALWAYS God.