things jesus didn’t say | 3 | reason

3 04 2014

Everything happens for a reason. It sounds ok at first. it sounds like something Jesus might have said. Until you really think about it. Everything? For a reason? For what, reason, exactly, is a woman raped? For what reason does a child die from cancer? For what reason are Syria’s refugees in desperate crisis? So they can learn about suffering, or grow in character? Seriously?


What people really mean is that minor disappointments can teach us something. And that yes, some things happen for a reason. Yes, some things are directed by God. And the crux of it is this: yes, God can redeem even the darkest situation of pain and suffering. But that is very different from saying that it happened for a reason. That suggests deliberate cause for a deliberate effect. I do not believe that God indiscriminately causes deliberate suffering to teach us a lesson.

‘Everything happens for a reason’ is more about submitting to the person-less myth of Fate than believing in the sovereignty of God who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. It is lazy, passive theology. Instead we should claim God’s presence in the darkest places, trust in God’s ability to transform them, and lament when he does not.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

(Psalm 22 1-2, echoed by Jesus in Matthew 27.46) 




6 responses

3 04 2014

God doesn’t cause evil, but he does walk with us through evil times and even carry us through some, and he does bring good out of evil situations. That is the nature of a resurrecting God and is my experience of a life with him.

3 04 2014

on a par with ‘that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…’
really love this series… thanks

4 04 2014

utterly agree with almost every word… I would have said “every word” without the “almost” vhad I not read this blog immediately before your one…
This makes me question the “lament when he does not.”… although I’d never for one moment think we shouldn’t be continually seeking His transforming and redeeming power in every situation.
I’m still working out the implications of the other blog…

4 04 2014

absolutely, get so angrrry when people say that – yes, everything happens for a reason but sometimes that reason is you’re stupid and you do stupid things and not God ordained it to be so… like Romans 8.28, yes God works all things together for good but some of those “all things” are really horrible and broken things…

great post
mini rant over
keep on
love brett fish

5 04 2014

Love your assertion that such a statement is passive and lazy theology. It’s so very true… And in all honesty, there are times when I’ve believed this for myself when things in my life haven’t made sense. Your post makes me push myself to question WHY I’ve figured that there must be a ‘reason’ why bad things have happened, and I think it’s just because it’s easier… It’s easier to think there is a spiritual reason because it means the pain we suffer might have a positive purpose… However, you’re right to point out that it’s lazy… Buying into ‘everything has a reason’ theology means we don’t have to wrestle with a difficult and more real theology.
I’m rambling as I try to sort my thoughts!

12 04 2014

“Lazy passive theology”….wait while I scoop myself up off the floor again… knocked me off the other side of the chair! 😉 I can’t begin to scream how sick and tired I’ve been of having this kind of conversation with fellow Christians and especially some leaders in Church who would rather round off the difficult thinking with “some things are meant to be” or “everything happens for a reason”. Blind faith isn’t for me…I want to “wrestle” it out with God too!

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