“Everything happens for a reason.”
“You’ll be stronger because of this.”
“Imagine how much good will come from this.”
These are some popular phrases we use that cause me to cringe and shake my head. Often by well meaning people trying to comfort somebody in the midst of suffering.
In fact, many Christians say things like this. Using the following verse like Romans for why they think whatever bad may be happening, good will always outweigh it.
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.
People assume especially if you love God, of course it’s better that you are going through what you are going through. In fact, you would have missed out if you hadn’t experienced this thing!
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
First, God allows everything to happen, he doesn’t cause everything to happen. We live in a broken, fallen, and sinful world. God is not broken, fallen, or sinful. So when broken, fallen, and sinful things happen it is not of his doing, it is of his allowing.
So yes, you may be in the midst of a really hard time, but that is not necessarily because it is the best thing for you, it could just be because we live in an imperfect world.
My dad’s suicide is a really good example.
It was not God’s will for my Dad to end his life. That decision has caused a lot of pain and suffering for me and my family.
Now it is true that I have learned a lot of things from that experience, many of which have made me a better person and brought me closer to Jesus. As someone is not an inherently empathetic or sympathetic person, I now grieve much more with others when they are in difficult times than I ever would have if I had not experience so much grief myself. I’ve learned things I never would have learned how I not lost my Dad in that way.
However, by losing my Dad, I’ve missed out on a lot of other things. Things I would argue far outweigh what I learned my losing him.
Since I was 19 years old and for the rest of my life, I have missed out seeking his advice. I have missed out on asking him questions about marriage, about raising a family, and about every single adult decision that I have and will face for the first time.
I have and will miss out on enjoying his presence. On watching sports with him and experiencing life with him. I lost so many things when my Dad died.
Here’s the reality. Though God allows terrible things to happen, the good news is that he doesn’t waste anything. So while losing my father has had more of a negative impact on my life than a positive one, God in his goodness still will use that experience to bring good in my life in spite of the bad. And hopefully my story will be an encouragement to others in a way it wouldn’t have been otherwise.
We also have to remember that “our good” often does not mean our earthly good. Ultimately God works in all things to bring us closer to him if we let him. And the best thing God could ever do was send Jesus to die on our behalf so we could have a relationship with him.
So in that sense yes, God can use everything for our good. And even in bad things, God can use it to bring us good in spite of how much we lost. But that doesn’t take away from the pain we experienced along the way.
A final note to those suffering. The reason you are experiencing what you experiencing may be because first and foremost we live in a fallen world, not because God is punishing you and wants to teach you something. There are always things we can learn, but please know that God cares for and loves you and wants good for his children.