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!


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?

260 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.

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