This week at CLC we considered chapters four and five in the book, “God, Where Are You?” These chapters deal with really bad spiritual advice and perhaps the most common and inaccurate spiritual adage, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Furthermore, consider this question: What do the following four statements have in common?
- God helps those who help themselves.
- Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- Good things happen to people who deserve it and vice-versa.
Answer: While they may sound wise or meaningful, none of them can be found in the Bible, and they may or may not be true, depending on your circumstance. Particularly, statements #3 and #4 are common beliefs in pop-Christianity. However, they are difficult to support Biblically.
These statements are true only sometimes. Indeed, God frequently blesses obedience. Likewise, there are often reasons why both good and bad things happen in life. However, the difficulty begins when we assume that good or bad things always happen to people who deserve them. Additional difficulty can arise when we assume there is a divine reason why everything happens.
Today, the idea that we can control the good that happens to us is often referred to as “prosperity theology.” Simply put, “Live right, and God will bless you.” However, the truth in our universe is often that the reverse of prosperity theology is true: bad things can (and do) happen to good, undeserving people (and vice-versa).
The phrase, “Everything happens for a reason,” can be easily thrown around when tragic things happen and bystanders don’t know what to say or how to make sense of what occurred. They use this phrase suggesting that God causes all things to occur according to some divine, often hidden master plan. While we may only see abuse, suffering, death, loss, or injustice, don’t worry; someday you will see God’s strategy, and you will have a divine “a-ha” moment and it will all make sense.
Unfortunately, this phrase doesn’t help us cope with the pain in life. It simply implies that God has some amazing plan, and He simply needed some of your pain and suffering to finish the job. Understandably, people often feel more defeat and discouragement instead of comfort from such life explanations.
For an in-depth consideration of hopeful and Biblically-sound alternative explanations to the pain and struggles of life, watch the message online in the CLC sermon archives and get your copy of “God, Where Are You?” from the publisher (CreateSpace) or Amazon.