As I get older, I find it extremely irritating for Scripture to be used out of context. Probably because I’ve done it myself on many occasions and now, looking back at it, that was just stupid. Well, it was ignorant. I am by no means a Biblical scholar, but I have grown in my understanding of scripture, and continue to do so. While my perceptions of some things have changed about the Bible, I hold fast to the truth that it is God’s Word to us, and that we will never fully understand all of its mysteries. And I’m okay with that. I believe that we are not meant to understand it all and that the mystery should fuel within us a hunger to dig deeper, know God more fully, and trust Him more and more. Not so we can be “right”, but so we can be righteous.
Last night, my daughter was talking to me about some things going on in her life. She was troubled, upset, worried about many things that are beyond her control. As I explained to her that I understood why she felt the way she did, I tried to reassure her that the best thing she could do was pray. Because it is in prayer that we find peace, rest from the cares that threaten to break us and steal our joy. As talk turned toward the spiritual, she said, “I know the Bible says everything happens for a reason, but I just don’t see what this reason could be.”
I had to pause because I sat there and wondered how many people are under that impression. That the platitude “everything happens for a reason” is in the Bible somewhere. Yep, it’s right there under Imadeitup chapter 4 verse 11, “Whenever thou feelest gloomy, remind thyself that God hath said, “everything happens for a reason”.”
And to be perfectly honest, I’m really glad it DOESN’T say that. Because what kind of God would we serve if His only answer to us was, “everything happens for a reason”. When we are facing the loss of someone that rips out a piece of our soul, when our marriage is in shambles, when we are diagnosed with chronic, or terminal illness – “everything happens for a reason”?
And that’s what I told Reagan. “No.” I said, “The Bible does not say that, Reagan. It says that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” And I got kind of a blank stare as a response. I went on, the best I could, and explained what this verse means. That the good things and the bad things that happen to us are all used by God to make us more like Christ. But, the key thing to remember here is that there ARE going to be some bad things. And it doesn’t mean we aren’t loving God enough or that He quit loving us. Maybe everything DOES happen for a reason, but does that teach us anything in the process? Because it sounds like a cop-out to me. This bad thing happened to me but it happened for a reason so I’m just going to go on and maybe one day the reason it happened will be evident. People tell other people all the time, “Well, they say everything happens for a reason.” If it was YOU in the horrendous circumstances, is that what you’d want to hear? Need to hear? Is it what you’d be telling yourself? Because when I’m in the middle of difficult circumstances, I’m not necessarily struggling to understand WHY they happened, but all of the emotions that are happening because of them. I’m dealing with fear, anger, frustration, guilt. And THAT is when I need to understand that working through those emotions is the part that generally “works for the good” of me. Because doing that draws me closer to God. Maybe not initially. Sometimes I’m stubborn and don’t really feel like doing the “homework” that came with the circumstances. But if I will open up my heart and let God pour some really stinging antiseptic on my hurts, then we generally move forward to a better place – together.
So, right now, I’m trying to help her work through this difficult time in her life. Trying to help her with the “homework” that came with this particular set of circumstances. Because, knowing what it is, she’s probably going to have some repeat lessons. And, as we work through it together, I will gladly remind her of what the Bible DOES say about things, especially about pain. That the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. That He will one day wipe every tear from our eyes. That He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And yes, that all these things are working for her good.