I've long been annoyed by the saying "Everything happens for a reason."
For one, I find it to be rather sappy and, well, I'm not a particularly sappy person.
More importantly, I've never thought the sentiment was true. Some things just happen. There's no rhyme or reason to them. They just happen.
But, the more I think about it, the more I've come to realize I was wrong.
Everything does happen for a reason.
When you got that new job you were hoping for, that happened for a reason -- you applied for it, you interviewed well, and the company thought you were the best candidate for the job.
When you failed that test you needed to pass in order to maintain your G.P.A. and keep your scholarship, that too happened for a reason -- you spent too much time on Facebook, going out with friends and catching up on your favorite shows when you should have been studying.
The time that house on the news got hit by lightning and burned to the ground, that happened for a reason -- the roof of the house was the closest contact point for the bolt of lightning, and the massive charge of electricity caused the wood the house was built with to catch on fire.
And when that young mother and her child were hit by a drunk driver and died tragically in a car accident, that also happened for a reason -- someone had too much to drink, and without concern for anyone else's wellbeing, they got behind the wheel of their car, wherein their impaired judgment and slowed response time resulted in them running a red light and taking the life of a mother and her child.
But there was no grander narrative behind these moments, no deeper meaning to be discovered if we simply read the signs correctly. They happened, and there was a reason behind their happening, but that reason was mundane, not divine.
They were not part of God's plan.
When these sorts of events occur, and we find ourselves in a moment of speechless horror, many of us instinctively utter the words "Everything happens for a reason," either to ourselves or to those who are suffering, with the thought being that God is behind these events and has a reason, or purpose, for them occurring.
Let's assume for a moment that is true, that the sort of events I've described, as well as other horrific tragedies, were the handiwork of the divine. What, then, does that say about the nature of God?
It says that God is a God who apparently delights in suffering.
It says that God is the sort of god who sends drunk drivers to kill, who burns down people's homes and afflicts random people with horrendous diseases, like cancer.
Regardless of any potential "reason" such a God would choose to does this things, if indeed God had a hand in intentionally causing them to occur, then that God is not the God of the Gospels.
That God is not worthy of worship.
That God is evil.
Does the Bible speak of a God who works to draw out good in the midst of great evil?
Absolutely. But there is tremendous difference between a God who orders the chaos and a God who causes it.
The doesn't mean God does not enact judgment. Scripture testifies to the fact that God does. But what scripture does not do is ascribe to God the responsibility or blame for every terrible thing that happens in life.
The truth is we live in a broken world, and in such a world, terrible, meaningless things happen. Not because God wants them to happen, but because our decisions have unavoidable consequences and because nature is an untamable beast that is always on the prowl.
But when we try to ascribe divine meaning, purpose or reason to tragedy, we merely compound the pain and turn God into a villain.
Mothers who suffer miscarriages should never have to hear that God killed their baby. Family members who just lost a loved one to cancer should never be told that God made their loved one sick. Friends whose homes have been lost to natural disaster should not have to hear that God wanted them to be homeless.
While we would never say these things exactly this way, when we try to comfort our friends and loved ones with the words "Everything happens for a reason," or "God has a purpose," then this is exactly what we are telling them.
It is a good and holy thing to want to console our friends who are suffering, but more often than not the greatest comfort you can give is the silence that accompanies a listening ear, a loving shoulder to cry on, and the promise of prayer.
Pain is hell.
Which means we must do everything we can to avoid becoming our loved ones tormenters in their time of trial.
We must stop putting our friends through hell every time they suffer by tormenting them with the words "Everything happens for a reason."
Yes, there will come a day when every tear will be wiped away and there will be no more death or crying or mourning or pain.
But until that day comes, our testimony to that future reality is not found in trying to attach meaning to the meaningless. Our testimony, and our gift of grace to those to suffer, will be found in our willingness to suffer with them, to walk with them through the valley of the shadow of death so that they know they are not alone.
In that act of grace, we incarnate the truth that though meaningless pain and suffering may seem to rule the present, they are not part of God's plan.
God's plan is that one day He will make His dwelling place among His people to dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be among them and be their God.
On that day, and not before it, the old order of things will pass away and all things will be made new.
Grace and Peace.
Follow Zack Hunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ZaackHunt
Do you believe everything happens for a reason? Read on….
You know that expression, “The more things change, the more they stay the same?” Well, Aristotle said it first. In his own particular words and way.
Aristotle (one of my personal favorite philosophers) believed that the universe is in a state of constant motion – always changing, always evolving.
However, at the same time, there is one thing that always remains a constant in everything – what Aristotle called “entelechy” – which he defined as your “unique-to-you highest potential.”
Aristotle believed that everything on this planet possesses its own “entelechy” – or as he explained it, “having the ability to grow into one’s highest potential stored within it.”
Entelechy is a vital force that motivates and guides an organism toward its highest self-fulfillment.
Consider the mighty oak tree. Its journey to mighty greatness begins with a small acorn seed.
Of course, the seed has to go through certain changes and stages of development in order to reach its full potential. But the potential is a constant: to become an oak tree.
You will never see an acorn become a petunia plant, an umbrella or a pizza.
According to Aristotle, there is always a reason for everything that happens. Your experiences are designed to shape you, define you and, hopefully, grow you into the mightiest you possible.Again, let’s consider the mighty oak tree.
When a storm hits it, the mighty oak is meant to grow into an even mightier oak – that is if the mighty oak intuitively bends to endure those stormy winds – and thereby grows stronger trunks and stronger branches.
Yep – the storm is actually in the long run the best thing to happen to a mighty oak – because it helps the mighty oak to grow into its highest possible mightiest potential.
You too can use adversity to grow into your mightiest self.
You can tap into what Aristotle called nous poetikos – which roughly translates as “conscious insight” – a unique-to-humans awesome perk – which if you choose to consciously tap into it will empower you to grow into your mightiest self.
Basically, with “conscious insight” you will find that you’re able to see why and how to bend with stormy winds – instead of angrily resisting the things that life is blowing at you!
You know that nasty break up you endured? You can choose to lovingly rename the experience “The break up that led to the breakdown that led to the breakthrough!”
In other words, what may have at first seemed deflating, frustrating or painful can be experienced with conscious insight as an empowering growth opportunity breakthrough.
According to Aristotle, there is a reason for everything which happens to you on your journey. It is to offer you special miracle-grow-insights to help you rise up stronger and higher as your mightiest self.
So here’s the great news:
You are on your way to a happier life if you consistently choose to tap into “conscious insight” – and keep your purpose for being on this planet in mind — which is to tap into your “entelechy” – and become your mightiest potential.
Of course, when things are going badly, there is always a tempting urge to shut down and shut off, to give in and give up, to get bitter, resentful, angry, spiteful, depressed, self-destructive and antisocial – all before breakfast!
When I’m tempted to shut down, I think of a horror movie I once saw with unconscious, soulless zombies – all miserably going around taking bites out of all the happy, alive, soulful people.
One bite – and the conscious, soulful people would become unconscious, soulless zombies too! I think about this – then make a conscious choice not to become an unconscious soulless zombie just because I’ve been bitten by an unconscious soulless zombie!
Basically… the only way to survive becoming an unconscious soulless zombie after being bitten by one is to use “conscious insight” to resist this happening – and emphatically look for the gain in your pain – your empowering growth opportunity! Yes, to become your highest, mightiest self, you must choose “conscious insight” and steadfastly choose to focus on the lessons being taught to you about how to grow into your mightiest most-loving, true-to-your-soul’s-highest-potential self.
Bad things—and bad people—happen to everyone on this planet.
You cannot control much of what happens in life. Life is a lively fusion of free will merged with destiny.
Free will gives you the choice to tap into conscious insight and become your mightiest self. With it, you can choose to morph all your pain into all your gain and make your tormentors your mentors—turning all your struggles into valuable lessons that help you grow strong.
So when times get tough, think of Aristotle. And don’t forget those zombies too! “Conscious insight” is the most powerful miracle growth formula you have to nurture your inner seed for your highest potential growth. Believe in your inner entelechy—and believe in your soul’s unique path—and you will find yourself growing into your mightiest, most awesome self!
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Karen Salmansohn (Founder)
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.