I know.. It's a shame, huh? Because it's a seemingly perfect response to most undesirable outcomes!
"He broke up with you the day before your Birthday by text with a picture attached of his new girlfriend?! Aww! Well, everything happens for a reason."
"Someone beat up your kindergardener after school? Poor kid. Well, just tell him that everything happens for a reason!"
"Hey, I just heard about this thing.. The Holocaust? Whew! Sounds pretty bad! But.. You know what they say! Everything happens for a reason!"
The sub-text is: nothing is ever really wrong.. Just not yet right.
Nope. I just don't buy it.
Here's why: God never desires for us to suffer, to run away from Him, to hurt each other. The fact is, free will allows us to choose freedom and beauty and goodness, but it also allows us to submit to weakness and fear and destruction. God never, ever wants us to suffer. Unfortunately, we don't believe Him when He tells us how to avoid it and, since we live on this earth together, we cause each other much pain.
On a sidenote, I think it's good to really understand suffering, because it's not all negative. We can use it to gain things; virtues, a heart for others, even faith. God may allow suffering to help us gain the things we're not achieving on our own. Here's how I think about it:
I once heard that when a little lamb keeps running away from the flock, the Shepherd breaks the lambs legs and puts the little guy around his shoulders. (Shepherds reading this, can you verify?) The lambs legs heal and he learns to stay right next to the Shepherd, with his flock and living a happy little lamb life! While I don't believe God ever desires us to suffer, I think He knows that many times we cling to Him when we do. Suffering is not the worst thing. Being away from the flock and alone for eternity is. Can we ever believe that's all God is trying to avoid? Losing you?
So! Back to the topic. I don't believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that everything is in God's control. Because God is the Ultimate Garmin. The King of Correction! El Presidente of the United States of Revitilization!
I remember watching my mom write before I really knew how to. She would make mistakes and be able to fashion the mis-placed letter into the correct one so quickly! Make that "2" into a "5", or whatever. God is the best at this! With our hurt and sin and sadness, not only can He correct it, He'll take a royal mess and turn it into the most beautiful creation; even more stunning than had there been no wreckage at all!
Our God is such a gentleman! He doesn't come barrelling into our lives, demanding the honor He deserves! He allows us a place of honor ourselves! Think about it.. The God who created it all, from gravel to gravity, allows us to choose the good for ourselves! That's free will, baby!
And we can feel that we're abandoned sometimes, reaping the not-so-swell benefits of free will. But I don't think we'll ever understand the protective hands He guards us with. No one hurts more than God when we suffer. And the ones who usually get in the way of His love for us.. Is us. He loves us so much! How happy we would be if we let Him.