Not everything happens for a reason. But in everything that happens, there can be a reason to bring hope and healing to others. God can use our pain for a greater good if we choose to let him in.
Here, I am responding to the premise of this blog post to a relatively popular writer in women’s circles. It is altogether trendy to be a mom that follows a witty, self-sufficient, and robust (and sometimes crass) woman who is also a mom, and who makes overtures that aim at jostling the ordinary and mundane.
So, although I commend a lot of women and men for coming out and speaking their minds, attracting followings, and supporting good conversations, this particular post is frightening.
This post has a very “link-bait” type appeal, that which often categorically denies something that is understood to be true. Not long ago there was a popular post called, “Don’t carpe diem” and it was all the rage. Still altogether frightening.
Here’s why: these sorts of posts (which share relatively large support in evangelical circles) often take for granted their theological premises, and try to entertain ideas (unbeknownst to them) that are opposed to Christianity. So, although I commend their challenge to rethink and to “be Berean” about certain topics, this is one that seems to gloss over some hard evidence from a Biblical perspective.
What I will argue through addressing some concerns I have with this blog (and generally this way of thinking) is the fact that we should be very, very afraid if it is in fact true that “some things do happen for no reason.” The flippancy and utterly treasonous alternative is no only demeaning to our view of God, but it is altogether a different god that does not exist in the Bible. If it were possible that this god existed (and it was the only one that did), we would need to feel very afraid, very lonely, and very discouraged about life. There is good reason to believe otherwise. Let’s walk through the post…
Assumptions are Insidious
What is an underlying general assumption throughout the aforementioned blog post is a very common logical fallacy, Begging the Question. It is a tricky one, but it basically states that if your argument contains the conclusion you are trying to prove, then it is cyclical reasoning. Read this quote from the post:
You can’t possibly imagine a reason for what just happened. (emphasis original)
Now, this isn’t a formal syllogism, but it is evident throughout that this statement begs the question: What if GOD can imagine a reason for what just happened? Is it possible that you may not be able to think of a reason but God can?
Sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than we are human beings having a human experience. Pain, heartache, grief, loss, disease, and death are inevitable parts of the human experience. (emphasis original)
So, here, the assumption is that if in our finite-ness we cannot come up with an explanation, after all of the “searching” (as the OP says) we do in life, then it is only necessary to come to grips with the mere fact that there is no reason for what happened.
There are two grounds we should not listen to nor grant this position. The first is simply that it is illogical; It does not follow that since we cannot think of “X” (even if we think about it for a long time), then “X” does not exist.
Very, very bad things happen to people all day, every day. Things that rock the world and shake the foundation of our families and societies, death, destruction, alienation, degradation of body and life, and all other sorts of things that seem to have no explanation and apparent reason.
We all struggle. We all suffer. We all experience pain, heartache, and loss. (emphasis original)
She affirms this quite well, and openly (a very good thing in this day and age). But she takes it too far:
And sometimes, there’s just no reason other than we are human and pain is a part of the process.
There is just no reason? This confirms the illogical aspect of her thinking: She has no more proved that there is no reason for events in life than one million dollars does not exist because she cannot see it. Her ability to comprehend and rest in the promises of God depends on her understanding of the suffering she goes through. It is presumptuous.
And there it is.
God’s will is not an event that happens to us, it’s how we respond to what happens.
Lets now look at the second reason why all of this is so very wrong. It just isn’t Biblical. Let’s take for instance the book of Job:
Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why dost thou hide thy face, and count me as thy enemy? (Job 13:23–24)
Job asks this question of God, the same Job who several months earlier had said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord … Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?” The same Job that was praising God in the midst of his suffering is now tired of his suffering, and the seemingly endless, pointless, and relentless strife and difficulty. He is beginning to wane in his convictions, and beginning to doubt whether or not he is suffering for no reason. The entire book of Job is filled with these sorts of questions, questions that push and prod the will and sovereignty of God.
What I’m really after though is, how does God answer the question, “Why is all of this seemingly pointless suffering occurring? What have I done?” God unleashes a litany of replies:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me. (Job 38ff)
And what ensues covers every conceivable explanation of life, and God says “Where were you Job before the foundation of the earth?” This translates into God saying, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20).
God is saying how dare you think that the creator of the universe doesn’t have a plan for all that happened to you.
This may seem harsh, but the reality is precisely here: Who are we to be humans, finite and incapable of thinking of the infinite things of God, to presume that life, in its suffering, has no reason? Who are we to presume that God is not powerful enough to have miraculous purposes to the darkest of sin and rebellion?
We are the gods.
We make of our lives what we want when it seems to be pointless. When suffering takes a tragic turn, when life is suddenly lost, when our friends and relatives leave us behind, when inextricable pain is sustained, when all of these things occur and we have no possible explanation for it, we don’t want God to be the reason for it. We don’t want to believe that God, through the pain and suffering of his children, his creation even, does not mightily ordain those things for His own good. This blog post goes further:
God is not responsible for our pain. We are not responsible for our pain. What happened in the Garden of Eden is responsible for the human condition.
Who is responsible for the pain in this instance? Did God not allow for Adam and Eve to make choices which ultimately led to their death? What exactly is the creator of the universe responsible for? In this instance, God’s design and reality did not match, which means God did not know what would happen. God in this moment is not omniscient.
We eventually become the arbiters of our own destiny through the suffering and misery of this life. We become the god. The writer of this blog confirms it:
There’s hardly ever a justifiable reason for the bad things that happen in life […] We have to create the good. We have to choose to respond in a way that brings good into an impossible situation. We have to choose to give purpose and meaning to our suffering.” (emphasis original)
Be Very Afraid
All of this leads to some disastrous consequences:
- We are incapable as finite beings to grasp and make good of something which we cannot explain or give real meaning for.
- We have no reason to follow a God who is not powerful enough to use the most heinous of acts for our good and his Glory.
- We presume upon God ignorance which don’t know if he really has.
- We foster idolatry over our own lives and our constitutions, which brings us not to God, but drives us away from Him.
Let me be clear: We have no hope in this life if God is not capable of weaving in the tapestry of human suffering his own plan for goodness, light, salvation, and Glory. We must be very afraid of a God who cannot do this, because then he is only as powerful as our perception of loss and our explanation of it. Do we really want to follow a God which can neither explain intense wrong nor show us how to deal with it?