another common phrase i hate

“everything happens for a reason.”

ugh. makes me want to slap somebody every time i hear it. it’s usually said by someone that doesn’t know what to say to comfort someone that is hurting. usually, it’s not malicious, just thoughtless. instead of just being there for the hurting person, sharing their load and crying with them, they feel this need to say something profound or that will fix it. it usually doesn’t.

there’s a few reasons i hate this platitude.

one is that this platitude assumes a really twisted economy. it presumes that for good things to happen, bad things must happen. as if we must pay in pain for joy.

it also devalues loss and suffering. as if there is some outcome down the road that will be “worth” present loss and suffering. do you think that any parent that lost a child could come up with one outcome that would have made their child’s death ok? if God said he could achieve world peace, but at the cost of your spouse or parent or treasured loved one, would you be able to say “oh, in that case, sure. i mean, that’s a fair trade.”

further, it sets up a false expectation that for every misery we experience, we will be able to see a future positive outcome that was enabled by that misery. i just don’t think that’s how it works. i don’t think i will ever be able to point to a blessing and say “oh, that’s why i was molested! now i get it. sure, that was worth it.” i think this sets us up for disappointment and a distrust of God.

last for now, the real reason we are tempted by “everything happens for a reason” is that we really, desperately want a reason. we can’t understand why this wretched thing is happening to us. it doesn’t seem fair, and we feel like God owes us an explanation.

in reality, we do not need a reason. “why” will not comfort us. “why” will not mend our broken hearts. because there is no “why” that is sufficient for our suffering.

what we need in our suffering is Jesus. we need more and more of Him–his person and his presence and his grace. we need the gospel: that Jesus loved us so much that he died for us and that we are dependent on him every moment. and that he is sufficient to meet all of our needs–even in the most painful circumstances, in the things we are sure we cannot survive.

for me, this is a moment by moment struggle. am i going to side with my flesh and demand a why? am i going to indulge myself and feel entitled to an explanation? or am i going to press into my Savior, and believe Him that his grace is sufficient for me?


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