Part 3 – “Everything Has a Reason” Contradicts a Loving God Who Grieves

Here’s where we abandon the tweets and jokes and get a bit more serious.

So far I have mentioned that the everything happens for a reason thing is flawed because it insists on a “cause and effect” outlook on life and is practically impossible to be consistent with. I understand why many like it and while I admit, the allure of being able to comfort myself that everything is happening right on schedule is appealing.  However, when given some thought, there are severe shortcomings.

One is that it diminishes the human experience. Are we created humans in God’s own image with some capacity for free will or are we simply pre-programmed robots? Second, it proclaims a weak God. As if He is a being that seems so afraid of human decision and action that He must stop them! Third, it implies that God is mean and contradicts His benevolence. Frankly, what kind of a God would pre-program us (read foreordain) to fail at the one thing He detests above all – sin?

These assumptions undermine the characteristics of omniscience and omnipotence. And at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, it makes God sound infinitely insecure and a galactic jerk. Further, when I sing about His Might, how can I also sing about His love without at some level feeling that He is a bully? And what becomes of prayer but a pre-determined routine that voids the beauty of communion and only reminds the Listener of His own manipulation?

Frankly, this is not the God that I believe in and I find it disgraceful to suggest that this type of pre-programmed human experience is a reflection of His image breathed into us.

I could go on but the the area that I find this faulty theology to be most damaging is in tragedy. I do remember the dark times. I remember the pain and the hopelessness. And I remember the difference between grieving and thinking that God wanted this and later thinking that God didn’t. Further I remember the beautiful comfort when I realized that God too was grieved.

Of the many accounts of Jesus’ life, among the most that have struck me are the moments is when the Gospel writers say that Jesus was filled with compassion. And of course, of those moments, I am moved by John’s account of Jesus weeping over the loss of His friend Lazarus, even though He knew He would bring him back to life. A God that weeps, a God that mourns, a God that knows love is a God that does not take the easy way out.

I know for those reading this will be a hard line to read, “Everything has a reason” sounds like an escapist motto to me. Not escapism like heroin but rather, escapism like denial. What if when someone died, God too was grieved? Not just because he/she may have suffered but because you and I suffer when we grieve their loss. And to take it a step further, what if God grieved every loss because it was yet another nail being hammered into the order of creation that death has infiltrated the ranks? What if God grieved when we grieved because He too, never wanted to experience the possibility of death? I praise the Lord for countless reasons, and among them is because the story does not end with a grieving Supreme Deity helpless to offer hope to our meaningless existence.

Part 4 soon – til then, feel free to comment, disagree, discuss …


  1. When E. T. taught me in theology class that God is perfect and therefore lacking nothing I had to wonder how that jives/clashes with an emotional God who rejoices when lost things are found as described in Luke 15 or the grieving God you mention in this post. Instead of throwing my hands up in intellectual surrender I am instead awed by the beauty of the mystery.

  2. Ahhh, good ole E.T. – those were the days …

    I think since we created in God’s image, God obviously has emotions. The Scriptures talk about them quite regularly: His anger, compassionate, disappointment, joy, etc.

    Too often we create this false impression that God is completely stoic and He only could understand the human experience through His recollection of the Second Person of the Trinity (as if He is no longer alive!). This does a terrible disservice on so many levels like to our theology to our church, our proclamation to the world, our communion with God.

    I love your last line, I think submitting ourselves to the mystery of it is a beautiful form of worship.

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