Recently a friend made a statement in a social media post that caused me to pause and ponder. She expressed that she doesn’t know anymore if everything happens for a reason. Sometimes things happen because people screw up. No lies told there. I see where she was going with that statement, and to a certain extent, I agree. But I believe both can be true and here’s why.
When people make this statement it’s often an attempt to offer some type of comfort when the inexplicable, unwanted, or unthinkable happens. It’s meant to underline how little we as humans control here on this earth. It’s how we, in our limited understanding, attempt to explain God’s sovereignty. It’s our way of saying “God works in mysterious ways.” And indeed He does, but not always in the ways that we think.
God created us in His image. He created us with the ability to create and operate autonomously. He also gave us this incredible power called free will. And we all know that with incredible power comes much responsibility. We must understand that our actions, our words, and our behaviors all have implications. To my friend’s point, we can potentially be the cause of something good or bad happening in this world that affects others. That’s why we have to be careful with our free will and not use it recklessly.
Now you may ask, what about God’s sovereignty? How does that play into our power and responsibility? He is both omniscient and omnipresent and He exists outside of what we know as time. That means He sees all things, before and after they have happened in our time. He is also with us in the present while they’re happening. And because He knew the beginning from the end, He knows exactly how to orchestrate all things for our good according to His purpose, including those screw-ups my friend referenced. So it’s true, the reasons for things happening are not all mysterious. Sometimes they’re not all inexplicable acts of God, but we better believe He’s included all of them in His plans for our lives.
I believe He designed things this way so that we would live life in relationship with Him. He sees all things; He knows all things; He is, in fact, all things. And He’s invited us into a relationship with Him so that we can know His will for our lives and glorify Him with it. He wants us to learn how to follow Him.
Does that mean that if we’re in relationship with Him and follow His will that we won’t make mistakes or have hardship as the result of things outside of our control? Absolutely not, because we are flawed beings with limited understanding, living in an imperfect world. But I believe when we live our lives in collaboration with Him, we will find ourselves both covered and comforted. We may not know the reasons for everything that happens in this life, but at least we’ll be walking with the One who does.