Summary: Bad things happen. While God is still in charge, not everything that happens in our lives is good.
“Everything Happens for a Reason”
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been in a series of messages called Mythbusters. We’re focusing in on spiritual myths – we’ve also called them spiritual urban legends. These myths or legends are based on false understandings of scripture and they always lead you down the wrong path.
This morning, we’re going to look at a spiritual urban legend – a spiritual myth – that is
pervasive and persistent. It’s one that usually comes up in the midst of a tragedy, a difficult time, a death or a loss, a breakup or a divorce.
Have you ever had something bad happen to you and people come to you with good intentions – they mean well, they’re trying to be helpful – and they say things like: “God must be up to something.” Or “God doesn’t make mistakes.” Or “You must be very special for God to trust you with this.” Or “This is a blessing in disguise. It’s an essential part of God’s great and wonderful plan for your life.” Or “Isn’t it good to know that everything happens for a reason?”
The words vary but the message is always the same: Someday you’ll be glad this happened. That’s the spiritual myth for today: everything happens for a reason.
I’ve noticed that none of those who are so quick to proclaim your difficulty a blessing seem eager to get blessed the same way in their own life. In one sense, they’re on the right track. No matter what happens, God is in control. He is the King of the universe and he is good.
However, that doesn’t mean He’s the direct cause of everything that happens. It doesn’t mean that everything that happens is something He wants to happen. And it certainly doesn’t mean that everything that God allows is good.
God did not cause Lucifer to rebel. He didn’t cause Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. He didn’t cause David to sleep with Bathsheba. He didn’t cause Cain to kill Abel, the tower of Babel to be built or force the crowd to cry out for Barabbas. He didn’t coerce the Roman soldiers into killing Jesus. Those who carried out these evil deeds bear full responsibility for their own actions. They can’t blame God. Adam tried. It didn’t fly.
It all begins with a misunderstood verse. Where did we come up with such an idea – that everything happens for a reason? Like most spiritual myths, it comes from a combination of wishful thinking and a twisted interpretation of a few key Scriptures. In this case, one verse in particular gets the spotlight - that verse is Rom. 8:28.
No other verse gets misquoted as often when it comes to trying to make sense out of life’s trials. It’s the favorite proof text for the “everything-is-good—if-you-wait-long-enough” crowd. It’s plastered on coffee mugs, posters, greeting cards, and all kinds of Jesus junk. It sounds good. It sells well. But Rom. 8:28 doesn’t say or mean what most people think it does. It doesn’t even apply to a large percentage of those who turn to it for comfort.
One of the sources of confusion may very well be that most folks who quote this verse quote it in the King James translation. Rom. 8:28 in the KJV: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Remember that the KJV was done in 1611 and written in what is known as Elizabethan or Shakespearian English. It might have been a clear translation in the early 1600’s but language changes.
When I was a kid, my mom would have chastised me for calling someone a dope. Then it became a word that referred to illegal drugs. But today, when kids call something dope, it’s high praise: “That car is dope.”
A more accurate translation for modern English is the NIV. Rom. 8:28 in the NIV reads: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The difference may seem subtle but it is significant. The KJV has as all things working together. The NIV has God working in all things.
It doesn’t say that everything that happens is good. It simply says that God is at work in all things. If you’ll read this verse in context, you see it much more clearly.
Turn in your Bibles to Rom. 8:28-39 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.