The Truth Behind, “Everything Happens for a Reason.”

Those who have seen the movie, Karate Kid, will never forget the scene when the young Daniel is ordered by his mentor, Mr. Miyagi, to paint the fence, sand the deck, and wax the cars. Daniel is angry and impatient while carrying out the tasks but eventually learns that there was an important reason. The tasks were Miyagi’s method for developing some reflex motions that were very relevant to his martial arts’ self-defense. The reason behind the frustrating chores made everything OK.

There are those who want to place God in the Miyagi role every time something bad happens. You lost your job? Be patient, God has a reason. Your spouse cheated on you? You might not see it now, but there is a good reason. You have cancer? Don’t worry about it, everything happens for a reason! The logic behind those statements is, “Just like Miyagi did to Daniel, God is doing that to you for some reason that will later be clear. Therefore, everything is OK.”

The problem that way of thinking is that it is just wrong! It is true that, “everything happens for a reason,” but that reason is not always because God pro-actively caused it to bring about some desired result. That just isn’t how God works. To God, the end doesn’t always justify the means. To God, the means matters.

Recently, my daughter was in a bad car accident. Some people would have us asking, “Why did God do this? What was he trying to teach?” The answer is, “God didn’t do it. A drunk driver did.” The actual reason was a combination of chemistry, biology, physics, and free-will. The driver exercised her free-will to drink too much of a substance whose chemistry affected her biology in such a way as to give her impaired judgment and reflexes. In that impaired condition she operated a piece of heavy machinery (her car). Simple physics dictate that when a vehicle going over 90 miles per hour overtakes a vehicle going 60 miles per hour the impact is going to cause damage.

On the surface it might not seem as comforting to think that the accident was a result of chemistry, biology, physics and free-will instead of some important unknown God-in-the-Miyagi-role reason. But think a little deeper and I believe it is more comforting! Personally, I prefer a God for whom the means matters.

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