Everything does NOT Happen for a Reason

everything happens for a reasonI frequently hear people say “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s usually said in the midst of challenging circumstances as a way of trying to make some sense of the situation. But is this really true?

Does everything happen for a reason?

I posted this question on the Live Intentionally Facebook page which prompted a fascinating conversation with people with all kinds of diverse views about God and the universe weighing in. I love it!

Clarification

Following that conversation, I realize one clarification is necessary: when we say “everything happens for a reason” we’re not talking about simple, physical cause and effect. We’re talking about a higher power orchestrating events for a reason. If a hammer slips out of my hand and lands on my toe, we all understand there are physical reasons for that – my hand was sweaty, gravity pulled it down, etc. That’s not at issue here. The question is whether God (or some other being/force) wanted the hammer to hit my toe for some greater purpose.

As you can already tell from the title of this post…

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason.

If we say “Everything happens for a reason” that would indicate that God (or some other all-powerful person/force) intends for everything to happen that happens. That is just not consistent with what I know from the bible or from personal experience.

First of all, the God of the bible (the God I know and follow) is a God of order. He created systems that govern the laws of nature. He does not have to choose where the planets will be every moment of every day; He created gravity to do that. He does not have to choose where and when it will rain every moment of every day; He created weather systems to do that.

Certainly there is both biblical and experiential evidence to show that God intervenes in world events. God can and has stopped the sun in its place (Joshua 10:13). God can and has caused the start and end of droughts (Haggai 1:11).

But if it rains, should I be saying, “I guess God didn’t want my son to play baseball today?” Or on a grander scale, “I guess God didn’t want the Patriots to win the Superbowl this year?” Does God have some greater purpose behind the fact that we’re out of bagels and I had an English muffin for breakfast?

If so, why create systems at all? It just doesn’t seem consistent with who God is and how He operates.

Certainly there is lots of room to debate the degree to which God is actively intervenes in day to day events. Sometimes – yes. Every time – no. Sometimes the hammer falls on your toe just because your hand was sweaty.

Second, we as human beings have free will. We can choose good or evil. All is not decided for us. If I punch you in the nose, it is not “God’s will” for you to have a bloody nose but mine.

God is all-good. He is not capable of perpetrating evil. He is also all-powerful and has the capacity to intervene in world events when he wants to. But he often he chooses not to leaving us to deal with the natural consequences of our actions both good and bad.

The good news, however…

is that the bible tells us in Romans 8:28

In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Even though God doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us, He is able to use all circumstances – no matter how bad – for our good if we allow him. The same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is capable of healing our physical, emotional and relational wounds. And often in his infinite wisdom, God uses us to bring comfort, guidance and healing to others who are going through the same bad circumstances we experienced.

So, when I or someone I know faces challenging circumstances instead of saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” I choose to say, “This is tough, but God is powerful and loving enough to use even these circumstances to bring about good.”

What do you think?  Do you think “everything happens for a reason?”  Why or why not?

283 Responses to “Everything does NOT Happen for a Reason”

  1. Hello…. don’t get me wrong I’m a believer. But, there’s something that has been nagging at me lately; If God is omnipotent and omniscient, and He knows everything that’s going to happen and the decisions we will make, then WHAT is OUR purpose exactly, if He already knows how things will turn out…???

    • Hi Deb, great question. Based on what the bible says, I believe our purpose is to love God, give Him glory and be about his business. Let me try an analogy…

      Let’s say I need to bake cupcakes for a party. I could bake them myself, but I would rather do it with my kids. I ask my son if he would like to help me bake the cupcakes, but he says no and goes off to watch TV. I ask my daughter if she would like to help me bake the cupcakes. She says yes, we have a great time together, she gets a sense of fulfillment from having helped make the cupcakes and she even gets to lick the bowl!

      The cupcakes were going to get made no matter what. I could have made them on my own, and I would have if both kids had said no. But because my daughter chose to join me, we got to spend time together and she got to be a part of what I was doing.

  2. I have a little different perspective on the Lord knowing all. From a biblical point it is said he knew us from the beginning of time. We know this universe we life in is finite. It had a beginning and it has and end. Does not matter how long it has been here or how much longer it will stay. As the Lord is infinite and time has no meaning, I envision time as a yard stick. one end is the beginning and the other the end of time.
    I see the Lord looking down with one foot at the very beginning of time in this universe and one foot at the end. The Lord can see every moment on this timeline. He sees or last moments here before we are even born. Thus he knows every choice, every event and every action we will ever take during our time here. This does not mean our lives are predestined though. As we are given free will and choice, the lives we lead are based on our choices. If the Lord told us what those choices would be then it would be predestined but he does not. He allows us to choose but he does give us his word to guide our decisions and to give hope and comfort in the hard times.

  3. How to understand God’s plan in my life.

  4. I do believe everything happens for a reason. Certainly there are laws to govern us in the natural which may have caused the hammer to slip however, there is a whole spiritual realm of hosts who are all working according to the enemy’s plan to kill, steal and destroy. There are many understandings that could come from the hammer falling. Did God allow it to test your heart and reaction? Were you upset and did you shout out angrily? Did you call out to God for His comfort and healing on your foot?

    If you punched me in the nose, bleeding is the natural consequence, but in that scenario, isn’t God giving me the opportunity to learn or walk out forgiving my offender?

    My God is intentional and purposeful. Did it rain because He preferred that you stayed in with your child spending time in devotion to the Lord? Has baseball become a priority before God in your lives?

    I don’t believe God perpetuates evil, but are some of the circumstances that we don’t like or cause us pain necessarily evil? His ways are not our ways? Again, couldn’t there be a greater purpose for the pain? My argument is, yes there could.

    These answers can be obtained in intimate time with God. In these times, revelation will come.

    • Uraca, thanks for your reply. I agree with most of what you’ve written but I think its important to distinquish between what God causes for a specific purpose vs what God allows and can redeem if we let him.

      Punching someone in the nose is evil. If we agree that God does not perpetrate evil, then if I punch someone in the nose it is my doing not God’s, isn’t it? If so, then we can’t say God caused it to happen for a reason, right? Yes, God chose not to intervene but that is different. As I wrote in the post, God can and does use evil caused by others for good, but that is different than saying they happened for a reason.

  5. Paul. I only had one thing to add. Your post is taking into account that there is a positive force that causes everything thing to happen a and for that reason we can not say that a positive force will allow evil things but I think you are forgetting that along with that positive force there is also an evil force. As much as God can control the things that happen in your life there is a devil that also pushes his will upon the living. And because there is a battle between good and evil is why good things and bad things happen but thank God that he reigns because without God things would be pretty bad. And for that reason I do believe that everything happens for a reason good reason or bad reason but nevertheless a reason.

    • Keon, thanks for your comment. I agree with what you’re saying, however, when people say “everything happens for a reason” I think they usually mean everything happens for a good reason.

  6. Thank you Paul! It all makes sense. The way you respond to comments shows humility and great wisdom as well. May God bless you even more and bring you to greater heights of Christian maturity. Blessings! God bless you and we bless God! ^_^

  7. I urge new readers to this blog to scroll down and read the responses by Sophia and then the writer’s retorts to what she has said and, afterwards, ask yourselves which of these individuals do you think would be there for you in a time of trouble. If you needed a cup of water his response would be…I’ll pray for you. Always remember that god is good until he isn’t and when he isn’t you are to blame for that. Sick.

    • Hi Steve, I don’t get that impression from the responses to Sophia at all. It is true that SOMETIMES we create our problems, isn’t it? If I commit a crime, get arrested, pray that God would get me off and I still end up in prison, should I blame God for not getting me out of prison or should I take the blame for committing the crime?

      On the other hand, SOMETIMES our problems are not of our own making – illness, natural disasters, when we’re hurt by other people’s wrongs. In those situations, I remind myself of what God tells us in Romans 8:28, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

      By the way, if you’re just thirsty, let me know your address and I’ll send you some water. If you are thirsty for more spiritually, let me know and we can continue the conversation here or via email.

  8. I am responding to the comments directed at me from this blogger only to protect the people who are in pain out there from his sociopathic abuse. To those in pain, I’ve spent over twenty years working for a number of churches and their related community services in a variety of capacities. I’ve also run a crisis line for crime victims as well. And the reason I am telling you all this is not to blow my own horn as this writer often does(an act that is contrary to his god’s own words )but to let you all know that from experience I have learned that all sociopaths share the mindset that the victim is to blame. So arguing or debating with a serial killer or a serial abuser like this individual is fruitless. They will never acknowledge they or, in this case, their model of god is wrong. They can’t do this because they are just evil. If you are in pain and you are christian and know you are not to blame for what is happening then stop doing it and stop coming to sites like this that will just worsen your pain. If you need biblical help simply do an internet search to find the countless verses that state unequivocally that both good and EVIL come from god ( and most times for no reason). It will help you understand how things really work ( by that I mean not according to this lunatic model) and, possibly, help your mind deal with what is happening to you. My heart goes out to you all. I wish I could help each and everyone of you but I can barely help myself. My only advice, if you are willing to take it, is try and go out and make new friends who are willing to listen to your problems and help you move forward without loading you down with the unwarranted false fear and blame these “god is good and you are not” abusers like this blogger want you to feel. Good luck and much love. Oh, also, if you need biblical inspiration I suggest you read the story of Job not for the reasons the “god is good and you are not” con artists tell you but to find out who he blames for the evil that has befallen him (hint: it’s not the devil) and who says he is correct in that assumption ( hint: it’s not the devil). You’ll also recognize this blogger in one of Job’s friends. Take care.

    • Steve, instead of telling people to “simply do an internet search to find the countless verses that state unequivocally that both good and EVIL come from god,” could you help us out by sharing with us the specific verses you’re referring to?

  9. Again, to all those in pain, I ask you: Didn’t I just give this blogger a selection where the main character claims that both good and evil come from god? A selection where god himself says this is true? And did you see how he just ignored that? It’s a method all sociopaths and psychopaths use to circle back to blaming the victim. For all those suffering from this abuse your real journey begins with this: King James Bible
    But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. NET Bible
    But he replied, “You’re talking like one of the godless women would do! Should we receive what is good from God, and not also receive what is evil?” In all this Job did not sin by what he said. I am done.

    • Steve, if we’re going to have a conversation here, please be honest. I did not ignore you. In fact, when you made a vague reference to “simply do an internet search to find the countless verses,” I responded to you by asking for clarification.

      I appreciate you responding back with a specific bible version you believe supports your view that both good an evil come from God. As with all scripture, its important to interpret it in the context of the entire bible. A more accurate translation of Job 2:10 is this: Job answered, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Should we take only good things from God and not trouble?” In spite of all this Job did not sin in what he said.

      There are other verses in the Bible that speak to God being good all the time:

      For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. (1 Timothy 4:4).

      God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

      And dozens of verses that refer to God as holy, meaning “set apart” or perfect

      You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. (Psalm 22:3)

      I am the LORD, your Holy One. (Isaiah 43:15)

      The evidence is overwhelming, don’t you think?

  10. The accepted translation of the word today as it has been for centuries by theologians and scholars is evil. The context of the bible has countless other phrases that say good and evil come from this god but if I posted them here you would simply claim they have been translated incorrectly or taken out of context. I understand that you can’t keep lying and I don’t care. I just care about those you are lying to and blaming for the failure of your model of a god to keep his promises and words… er…your words. I only ask of those individuals if they think “trouble” isn’t evil? Silly and sad all at the same time.

    • >> I only ask of those individuals if they think “trouble” isn’t evil?

      Good idea. Anyone who comes by and reads these comments can look back at their own lives and reflect on whether God has ever used trouble and difficulties for good. Has God ever used hardships to develop your patience, perseverance and faith? If He has, then would you consider that “trouble” good and not evil?

  11. How is murder trouble? How is rape ever good? Try spending less time around criminals who have “found Jesus” in order to use religion as another weapon to inflict pain and more time around their victims to see the “good” your model of a god has “allowed”. Do you realize how sick you sound? Tell the family of a murder victim that it is all for his glory and pray they don’t put you through a wall. I’m a former evangelical and I’m thankful I, personally, never took the approach you do in blaming the victim when I couldn’t explain “god’s” failures. Just do me one favor though…remember my words should your god allow some of his good, like the good I’ve spoken of here, to come your children’s way because they will be the only words you’ll hear when you cry out to your god for an explanation why.

    • Steve, I addressed this in the original article:

      “we as human beings have free will. We can choose good or evil. All is not decided for us. If I punch you in the nose, it is not “God’s will” for you to have a bloody nose but mine.”

      Are you upset that God has given us free will?

  12. What book are you reading? Did Job have free will when your psychopathic murderer of a god caused the murder of his family? Did Paul have a say in his blinding? Your con is obvious. Your “belief system” is geared toward blaming the victim so you can excuse your god’s failures. Instead of blaming the victim turn your focus toward your god and ask him why he is unable to protect even the best of christians or heal them when they are sick as he did in the past. You wish us to believe in free will and all that is spoken in this book then, fine, show us by healing all those suffering with cancer by laying your hands on them and we will follow. Can you not do this? Why? Don’t you want us to believe that the laying on of hands miracles occurred. So, prove it. And, please, don’t hide under the ” don’t test the lord” con. The god of the bible proved himself when others challenged Moses about him. Where did that god go? Is he gone or is it your faith and the faith of other christians just not strong enough? Or maybe and, more likely, is it because it never ever happened? But, back to my question…Can you heal someone with cancer? Yes or no? And let me remind you to “let your yes’ be yes’ and your no’s be no’s for everything else is of the devil”. To those in pain, if the answer is no then this person is not a true believer. If he answers in a roundabout way then he is in defiance of his own god’s words. Yes or no? And, if you cannot heal, as even the least of Jesus’ disciples could, why should I believe that you are not of the devil? Also, remember, that christians profess that the god of the bible is the same today as he was then which must mean, of course, that he couldn’t heal then either.

    • No, I can’t heal someone with cancer and neither could the disciples. Only God can heal. We can ask God through prayer to heal, but ultimaely it’s up to Him. He’s not some genie we can summon to grant wishes and do tricks for us anytime we ask.

      Steve, you have such short-sighted view of life. This life is so temporary. It’s gone in the blink of an eye compared with eternity. Death is not the end but the gateway into the next life. Only God can give life, so Who are we to question how long God allows any of us to live? It’s his perogative. This is why death is neither good nor evil. Murder on the other hand is evil because it is taking life into our hands when only God has the authority to give and take life.

      You keep bringing up “blame the victim…” It sounds like You see yourself as a victim? Are you are angry at God because He has not given you what you wanted? Did He not answer your prayers the way you wanted Him to?

  13. Sad. Your claims of a god who heals through his believers has been exposed as a fraud and again you turn on the one asking for proof. You are shown examples of a god who usurps free will and you ignore their existence. Keep changing his word until the image you’ve constructed of him completely disappears and you will be doing all of us a favor. Being short-sighted is a lot better than being blind.

    • No, I’m sharing with you the truth about a great and wonderful God who smart and powerful enough to create a universe with billions of galaxies and yet loving enough to create, walk along side, and die for each individual human being.

      But I understand this world is broken. People hurt one another, and God does not always intervene as we would like. It can be hard to understand why from our finite perspective.

      So, Steve, I’m genuinely asking… why are you so upset with God? In what ways do you feel he didn’t come through for you?

  14. If I claimed I could teach you how to skate and then got on the ice and couldn’t even stand upright would you pay me for lessons? If you tell me that your god has healed the sick and raised the dead all through the hands of his followers is it unfair of me to ask you to show me before I believe and follow? Didn’t Thomas ask to be shown proof? Didn’t the Israelites do the same? And didn’t that god, purportedly, come through? So, why can’t you do the same? Stop pretending I’m upset at any god in order to evade the question and point. The book says there are many false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing. It says to test them and the spirits. I’m testing you as Thomas did – show me or take your con back to prison.

    • Steve, it appears you have misunderstood and misrepresented the bible. I think it would be helpful to look at the entire passage:

      “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.” -1 John 4:1-3

      Does it say to test the spirits by demanding miracles as proof? Clearly not.

      On the other hand, it says, “every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” The spirit that is leading you to challenge what I’ve written in this blog post and comments, does it acknowledge that Jesus is of God? Do you acknowledge Jesus is of God?

  15. Spouting “Jesus is my Lord and savior” does not mean you are saved(ask Jeffrey Dahmer). You have to act saved. You keep skirting the issues and questions I have posed by playing the game of blaming the victim or questioner. I pointed out that you and other believers make claims that the bible is the inerrant word of god. If so, the book says it’s true believers could heal by laying on hands. So either it is lying or its modern day believers have no real faith and are not truly saved because alarmingly NONE can do this. Turning my words around and accusing me of not believing in Jesus because you are not living as he did is a true trick of the devil. Christ and his followers purportedly backed up their claims with actions. You and your followers do not. No one should have to ask you to perform miracles you should just be performing them. But, instead, you are all about phony “Job friend” type declarations, putting others in your private hell and Instagram. And then when people call you on it, like any good criminal, you hurl your “not saved” and “of little faith” accusations at the questioner to escape scrutiny. My faith taught me to not let “the right hand know what the left is doing”. Do you know what that means if you are as you claim to be “saved”? It means when you do the work of the “Lord” you don’t go around holding up little black babies from Haiti and taking pictures of you and them to show your “good works”. The work is supposed to be about god not you. Don’t worry, though, I don’t expect you to understand that because I don’t believe you and others like you really believe anything. You’re all just working a hustle that works for you. So keep on spouting “God is good” and singing songs while you step over homeless people you and your brethren have caused ( or in your vernacular “allowed”) to be homeless as you enter church if it makes you happy. And remember always that your god is good unlike the god of the bible who states over and over again that he is BOTH good and evil. Isiah 45:7 “I make peace and create evil”.

    • Steve, once again you have misunderstood and misrepresented the bible. For those who are interested, they can gain an accurate understanding of Isaiah 45:7 here: https://www.gotquestions.org/Isaiah-45-7.html

      I am willing to engage people in long conversations when they are genuinely interested in understanding God but it’s clear that you are not there right now. Debating someone whose heart is not open is a waste of time. I will leave your past comments up because trust that anyone who reads them will see the truth, but I will not publish any future comments you post.

  16. I don’t think you can say what God will or will not do apat from his word.
    Who can know the mind of God, his ways and thoughts are higher than ours. He allowed Joseph to go to prison. He crippled Jacob for life, so he could not run from his brother. We can take refuge in what ever happens to us for any reason that if we are called according to his purpose and love him he will work things out for good. It is through suffering that God teaches us to depend on him. Paul’s thorn was sent by a messenger of Satan but it was to keep him from being conceited , did the devil really want Paul to not be puffed up?? Just a few things to think on

  17. Hi Paul, I’ve been struggling with this very thing for some time now. It is directly contradictory to what I hear from the pulpit, in that God’s Plan is “this” if that were true then it would mean we do not have free will & more importantly & honestly more horrifying is that God condemns people to Hell. I refuse to believe that knowing what I do about Scripture. So Yes everything happens for a reason, but that reason isn’t because God wanted it to happen.

    I do have a question for you as I saw it brought up here. Satan, and the scripture…” comes to kill, steal, & destroy.” Doesn’t the passage say the ‘thief’? Is it really referencing the Devil or another of Jesus’ parables. Probably the same type of thief that was mentioned in the parable of the Good Samaritan, who did exactly that: kill(almost he would have died had he not been helped), stole clothes off his back, destroy(he was messed up bad, probably developed a few fears after that)
    I don’t believe that Lucifer is omnipotent or omni”anything” just a fallen angel with a vast knowledge but not the power to control our actions or unleash disaster upon the world to do so would insinuate that he is as powerful as God which is not so. Influence maybe but not the ability to create say a disease like cancer.

    Anyway thanks for posting this it really helped me out.

    • Hi DC, glad to hear the post was helpful for you.

      John 10:7-10 says, “7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

      Based on that, I believe the “thieves and robbers” are not Satan himself but rather false prophets who are being led – some knowingly, others unknowingly – by Satan.

      I agree that Satan is not as powerful as God, but he is far more powerful than we are on our own. He can’t control someone against their will, but he is called The Great Deceiver for a reason. He is constantly tempting and attempting to manipulate all of us to hurt ourselves and others.

      Fortunately, we do not have to battle The Deceiver on our own. Those who choose to follow Jesus have his Spirit leading us, exposing Satan’s deceptions and helping us to overcome evil with good.

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