Not everything happens for a reason

Looking out of my window I just saw a Mini and a van almost collide on a roundabout. This kind of near-miss happens quite a lot here, car horns get a good workout. My day would have been different if those vehicles had hit, to say nothing of the consequences for the drivers. What if...?

We think about this kind of thing a lot, and if there’s a Christian perspective near the thought process then questions like “Is God good?” and “Is life fair?” are guaranteed to come along sooner or later. They’re explored yet again in this article, “Does God ordain all sinful choices?

Andrew Wilson’s interesting and provocative answer is “Yes and no”. In some events at some times, God has worked through evil to accomplish His goal of rescuing the world through His Son, Jesus. The murder of Jesus is the pinnacle of this side of the argument. However, Andrew doesn’t find a compelling biblical case for God making every thing that happens, happen. The Holocaust remains the nadir on this side, keeping plenty of dread company.

When we’re thinking about this, I reckon we’re ultimately looking for a consolation to what we can’t comprehend. Life is so complex, complicated, contradictory – and that’s before I look beyond myself. Most Christians are less conscientious than the writers in that article and remain uncertain about how to make sense of a world which they hope is ultimately ruled by a good God. My experience is that this often results in a version of “Everything happens for a reason” with a couple of Bible verses claimed as supporting evidence, particularly Romans 8:28 and probably Jeremiah 29:11.

This is an attempt to give God credit for everything that happens but one of its weaknesses is that it marginalises or ignores a major piece of the Bible’s message: judgement. The New Testament clearly teaches that the instigator of evil and all who collaborated with him cannot escape God’s lordship, they will receive due penalty from Him for what they did, or failed to do (Matthew 25:31-46, 1 Peter 4:5Revelation 20:7-15). Those of us who have put our trust in Jesus as our substitute have the joyful relief of knowing that He took our part of that on the cross. In other words, nothing will have escaped God’s hand.