Why saying everything happens for a reason is harmful.

It started early in my life, when my good friend died in an unexpected, heartbreaking accident in seventh grade. My friends and I clutched one another through tears while we whispered, “Everything happens for a reason,” longing to find comfort and explanation among the agony and confusion. Over time, everything happens for a reason became my go-to mantra. When another friend died suddenly in 11th grade, when I experienced a massive heartbreak, or when life threw a setback I never saw coming, I told myself time and time again not to worry, that everything happens for a reason and that the magical reason would all become evident one day.

Years later I sat in a chapel praying after a particularly difficult counseling session with a sweet client. Not even yet old enough to drive, this girl had experienced more crushing agony than anyone should ever see in a lifetime, let alone before she turned sweet sixteen. I sat in the empty church, tears streaming down my face as I looked up at the cross above the altar and asked God, what is the reason for all of this?

And that’s when I realized something that changed my heart forever: saying everything happens for a reason is incredibly harmful. God doesn’t will the evils of the world. The truth is, our suffering isn’t always from God. Yes, it is true that sometimes, God does allow suffering and he’s absolutely in the business of bringing good from evil, but more often than not, this suffering we face is a result of the evil that permeates this broken, busted, and messed up world. And when we believe it’s from God, how in the world can we believe he is for us and loves us?

So how, then, do we deal with the evils of this world? When the enemy starts to plant fear I am reminded that God knew since the beginning of time when we would be born. He didn’t just know it, he ordained it. He chose us to be warriors to bring light into this dark world in a time such as this (Esther 4:14). You don’t know how to do that? That’s okay. It doesn’t fall on us to do the equipping (Hebrews 13:21). You feel weak? Good. His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

So how do we endure the hard times? It begins with the sure and certain truth that we are loved. Completely. Beyond measure. Exactly as we are. Not once we hit some mark or give a perfect performance in the roles we have been given as friend, daughter, mom, wife, fiance, girlfriend, or single woman. We know with assurance that the God of the universe, who needs nothing, still wants us.

And not only does he want us, he wants to partner with us. He invites us to grieve with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). It's a pretty weighty invitation in these tough times, but this is the hope of the gospel, gals. One day, our mourning will be turned to dancing (Psalm 30:11). When the darkness comes, we weep, but when the light comes, we rejoice (Psalm 30:5). In the meantime, we have to enter into the hard stuff with the people around us. 

Why? St. Teresa of Avila says is better than I ever could:

"Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” 

So while saying everything happens for a reason is incredibly harmful, there's work for us to do, sisters. Let's stop dwelling on the whys and get after being mighty warrior women of God who are here to bring God's glory out into the darkness of this world we call home.

You with me?

PS: It seems I may have struck a chord with a few people on my last post and have been overcome by all the sweet comments, sharing on social media, and emails from women who relate. Thank you from the bottom of my heart - so much.