Yesterday I went to get my hair cut and the hairdresser had a couple of large posters on the wall. There was some kind of image over-printed with a stencilled piece of poetic wisdom. It started with a sentence I’ve heard a lot; a statement that is commonly believed and yet the reasoning behind the belief is never pondered – “Everything happens for a reason…”
But why does “everything happen for a reason”? And how?
Why shouldn’t everything be arbitrary and pointless as atheists insist?
What makes the adherents to this philosophy so certain? Is it merely a desperate hope, that they couldn’t face the idea of pointlessness – that their suffering (it’s often used in relation to BAD “everythings” that happen) was really worth enduring?
Is there some kind of anonymous force behind this idea – maybe “the universe” is directing destiny. Or is some kind of deity is at work? If so what kind of force or deity? And what kind of allegiance should we feel towards them considering he/she/it works so hard at making sure there’s purpose to life.
Do we pay as much attention to that deity as we expect him/her/it to pay towards us?
It seems the most popular kind of force/deity/universal controller is the anonymous type – one to whom we feel no responsibility, who expects no accountability, who lets us get on with life to do as we please instead of what pleases him/her/it.
The ancient Athenians had a god of this type. They erected a shrine to the “unknown god” – one god of many, just in case there was one they had missed in their great family of gods. They didn’t want to aggravate any god by neglecting them, even if they weren’t aware of his/her existence.
The apostle Paul came across this shrine and told the Athenians about the God they did not know. This is recorded in the New Testament book of Acts:
Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.
So who or what is the force or power behind the “Everything happens for a reason” philosophy? Something anonymous that requires no accountability? Something “shaped by art and man’s devising”? (The Athenians at least had the sense to worship the god whose existence they suspected).
Maybe something of such important consequences to our life is something we should consider much more seriously. Something we can’t afford to be so casual about.
If you believe something is giving reason to everything that happens in your life – shouldn’t you think it important enough to give that something due attention in your life?
What if that something is actually someONE, who requires a response from you that will ensure the “reason” things are happening is working to your benefit?
The unknown God Paul spoke of was a God of that type. Not an anonymous deity. Not an apathetic deity who couldn’t care what you did in response to the reason He gives to our lives. Paul revealed a God who was Creator, a God with ownership over His creation (of which we are part).
A God to whom we are accountable.
A God who makes the rules and sets our consequences for how we live our lives and how we relate to Him.
A God we should take seriously and not casually dismiss.
If everything happens for a reason, it is HIS reason not ours. Everything revolves around HIM and not us. HE determines the standards and requirements we don’t.
If we think it’s not important to give Him due consideration we delude only ourselves.