The death of a friend.
A heart-wrenching breakup.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Everything happens for a reason.” But does it? For me to even pose that question might make some Christians uncomfortable, but it’s something we have to address. For those in the throes of grief, this platitude is hardly comforting. It’s also hard to believe in a loving, good God when death, pain and grief are part of His plan.
It’s important to make a distinction between what’s a cultural platitude that we tell the grieving and what’s actually biblical about God. Is God sovereign? Yes. Does God know what will happen? Yes.
But does God plan pain for us? The Bible gives us the answer.
Sin has marred a perfect world
The world we know today was never God’s intention, and this is important to grasp. Genesis 1-3 reveals that God intended this world to be perfect. It was meant to be a place of beauty, rest and unity. But sin has marred a perfect world. We now live in a place where death, sickness and heartbreak greet us. This is not what God wanted, nor what He wants today. But it is what mankind chose, and into this world God sent a perfect Son—the only Person who could provide us a hope beyond the pain.
The book of Job is a great illustration of how pain faces us, sometimes senselessly, but never comes from God Himself. When Job is tried with loss, sickness and pain, it’s because of the Enemy. God permits the Enemy to test Job, but God Himself does not cause it. His reason? To show Job’s faithfulness and God’s glory.
Our pain doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t always have a tangible reason. But it can bring life to many around us.
The “reason” may not numb the pain
Even when there is a reason for our grief and difficulty—a reason revealed later on—it doesn’t always numb the pain. I had four breakups before I met my husband. Each one was harder than the last. While I see now the multiple reasons those relationships had to end, it doesn’t remove the twinge of sadness I have in my heart for hurting those people (or being hurt by them).
Knowing that God has a purpose is good. It offers us an eternal perspective. But it’s okay if you still hurt about it.
Everything happens…and everything will be redeemed
Pain and grief will face us. Job loss is scary. Miscarriage and infertility are heart-crushing. But our hope beyond loss and grief and the grave is in our Redeemer: the One who will make all things right in the end. All the things we felt were unfair or too much for us will be reconciled by His justice and His grace. What a hope we have! Eternally, our lives will fall into place. There will be a reason for the pain, even if we don’t know it now.
Does everything happen for a reason? Yes and no. The reason may be something we don’t understand now. But we can trust that our Redeemer will make something beautiful from our ashes. He is not the one to run from, but the one to run to, and in coming to Him we find peace in the grieving.