When I was teaching my Bible study last Wednesday, we were talking about .... hmm, I honestly can't remember exactly what we were talking about at the particular moment I am recalling. At any rate, at this particular point, someone said, "So are you saying that what people say all the time -- that God makes everything happen for a reason -- isn't true?"
What a curious teaching so many have succumbed to, that God makes everything happen for a reason. It's right up there with, "God helps those who help themselves." Bolder dash!
I countered with, "Everything happens for a reason. If I put my hand on the hot stove, there's a reason it gets burned..." Natural law is at work. God rarely suspsends natural law.
The next question was something like, "So you think there are things that happen that God doesn't want to happen?" Yeah, hon, all the time. It's called free will. Sometimes you are the victim of other people's free will and sometimes you are the victim of your own free will.
Surely, the Master of the Universe has the power to orchestrate every single event in our lives, but it seems he would have to suspend free will in order to do so, wouldn't he? Yes, God has an ultimate will, but he must constantly operate within circumstantial will. Life is like a chess game. Every time we make a move, God has to counter move according to the circumstances we have set into motion, ever directing us toward his ultimate will.
Does he ever stop doing this? Well, I like to think he never gives up on us and continues to counter move, no matter how far we move from him.
So why do so many well-meaning people declare to those who are suffering, "Well, God makes everything happen for a reason?" How is that supposed to make them feel better? What are they thinking? I gnash my teeth when I hear this! It sounds like, "This is going to hurt you more than it hurts me," the last words our parents used to speak over us before unleashing their wrath, LOL.
God makes everything happen for a reason ... how can mercy, love, compassion, grace operate within that framework?
Case in point. My husband has a cousin whose daughter was killed in an auto accident when she was about 2. His teenage stepdaughter was driving the car. His daughter was launched from her car seat in missille fashion and killed instantly. What REASON could God have had for THAT? I think the Master of the Universe can figure out how to teach us certain lessons without raining down horrific tragedy upon our heads.
So then is God like the watch maker who makes a watch, sets it on a table and merely watches it run, never to interfere with it again? Certainly not.
Here is where it gets tricky and my thinking gets a bit muddled. Sometimes, God allows things to happen. But does he allow it for a reason? Hmmm, I'm not ready to commit to that, at the risk of contradicting myself.
He allows things to happen.
And he uses everything.
You see, this is the key to my being able to cope with the events stirring about me. God uses everything. I often tell the ladies in recovery quite emphatically, "Don't waste this ... let God use it." In using it, God can redeem it.
Yes, now I remember that we were talking about memories. More specifically, how God can use our memories and how he can heal our memories. When we discover the freedom that comes from the forgiveness of our sins, the power that these memories have over us to cripple our thinking and deliver a steady dose of pain is wiped out. In this respect, God can heal our memories.
Man, I'm digressing. Let me turn a bit more sharply back to God using everything....
Everything happens, to be sure, but God does not make everything happen. Sometimes he allows things to happen. AND he can use everything that happens to his glory and to move us through our own circumstances toward his ultimate will for our lives.
Stop asking "why." It's an invitation to heartache. Instead, ask "how" -- Lord, how can you use this?