INTRODUCTION: “Everything happens for a reason” – that statement hanging on our wall, when taken at face value is 100% correct. Life is a cause=effect existence, every action has a reaction…
Event; Burning of Academic Hall (MU) in 1892 – Reason; First electric light bulb west of the Mississippi
Event; My friend Jake was killed in an automobile accident – Reason; he was intoxicated
Event; In the 8th grade I broke my wrist – Reason; I tripped while playing basketball
With moments like these, some carry huge implications, others not so much so. They indeed happened for a reason, however they were every day events, and the reasons for them were mundane not divine.
BACKGROUND: The distinction between the two is something that gets Christians and non-Christians into trouble, and transforms a “truth” into a “myth” one that negatively impacts our faith…
WE WANT TO KNOW THERE’S A REASON
• When things happen, especially “bad” things, we want to know that there is a reason for it, that it’s all part of God’s plan (or from week #3 “blueprint”) and that there was ultimately a “good” reason
• Now God does indeed have a plan, no matter what happens, God is in control, He is the King of the Universe, and above all else He is GOOD! (3 words to always remember)
• But that doesn’t mean that He’s the direct cause of everything that happens, or that everything that happens is something He wanted to happen, nor does it mean that everything He “allows” is “good”
• For instance; God didn’t cause – Lucifer and his buddies to rebel, Adam and Eve to eat that darned fruit, David to sleep with Bathsheba, Cain to kill Able, the crowd to cry out “Barabbas” instead of “Jesus,” or the Romans to nail Him to the cross…
• Those who carried out these deeds, bear full responsibility for their actions, it’s the same with us they can’t blame God, and neither can we. Adam tried (Genesis 3:12) and look where it got him!
SO WHERE DO WE GET THIS IDEA?
• Like all of the myth’s we’ve looked at so far, this one comes from a passage of scripture that doesn’t say what we think it says, and doesn’t mean what we think it means (Romans 8:28)
• This is the proof-text for the “everything-is-good-if-you-wait-long-enough” crowd
• Now it appears to say that, given enough time, everything, that happens will prove to have been, “good,” “necessary,” and “God ordained”
• At the heart of our confusion is a minor issue of translation from the Greek into the English
• Compare the translation of this verse KJV & NIV – they look almost identical, and they should!
• But do we notice the difference? It doesn’t say that all things are good, but that “IN” all things God is at work – in other words even the enemies best shot can’t thwart God’s ultimate plan
• But that’s a far cry from saying that everything that happens is somehow “good” or “necessary”
• The text could be rendered God “co-operates” for good in all things, God works “in” not “with” all things, He’s not in mutual cooperation with them but working through them and sometimes in spite of them
• Those who try to pin every disease, financial disaster, betrayal, etc. on God are headed down a path that is logically indefensible!
• If these things were truly an expression of God’s goodness, they would have shown up in the garden, before the fall, yet this is clearly not the case
WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN…DON’T BLAME GOD (3 more words to always remember)
• To those who assume that everything that happens has God’s fingerprints all over it fail to distinguish between what God “causes” and what God “allows,” and there is a huge difference
• (1) God allows self-inflicted wounds – that we face because of our sinful choices (Me & my BB gun)
• (2) We live in a fallen world – bad people do bad things, and good people can’t always avoid them
• (3) God allows foolish decisions – when we don’t check facts, or properly prepare (2+2=5)
• The good news for us isn’t that God promises to keep us from messing up, or that He’ll fix it when we do… but He’ll continue working for our eternal good, no matter how many mistakes we make
WHY IT MATTERS
• An incorrect view of the reasoning behind why things happen, can lead to some very negative responses on our part
• (1) Anger at God – If God loves us why does He do this to us
• (2) Glossed over Sin – When we assume everything happens for a “God-ordained” reason, we don’t fear sin or its consequences, because everything comes out in the wash
• (3) Irresponsibility –If God’s in control, and calling the shots, it doesn’t matter what I do
• (4) Misplaced Hope – As long as God is the cause, there’s a chance He’ll intervene
• (5) Misplaced Despair – As long as God is the cause, He’s responsible for my own personal hell (which takes us back to #1)
CAN A BAD THING EVER BE A GOOD THING?
• NO… a bad thing is just that... a bad thing! But a bad thing can be used to bring about something good in the long run, the prime example of which is the death of Christ; bad for Jesus good for us!
• Every trial and hardship we face in life should have the same response – simple obedience
• This means loving God in the midst of it all, loving God in a fallen world, that’s falling apart!
• So if God is going to fix everything someday, why is He taking so long?
• God lingers because for every day He delays, more former enemies (lost) become friends (saved) the “dead” become “alive”(2nd Peter 3:9)
• So do you really want God to come back and take care of everything now? (Some days yes!) but most of the time I don’t, because I have too many friends who still don’t know Jesus
• “All things working together” will ultimately produce good, but not necessarily to us personally or even in our lifetime.
• Dark things, bright things, happy things, sad things, sweet things, bitter things, times of prosperity, times of adversity… God is at work in all of them! He is “there” and He is “not silent”
• “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity
CONCLUSION: R.A. Torrey observed about our key text, that it’s “A soft pillow of a tired heart.” The day will come when all bad things end, but until that day comes our best course of action is not trying to attach meaning to the meaningless but simple obedience…simple trust… Have you trusted Jesus today?
NOTE: The idea for this series, and some content was gleaned from the excellent book "10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe" by Larry Osborn.