“Everything Happens for a Reason”

On June 16, Pastor Jim preaches on Deuteronomy 30:19-20a.

19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days…

This Sunday we are beginning a series of sermons based upon Adam Hamilton’s book “Half Truths.” Our half truth this week is “Everything happens for a reason.”

Is this statement true, half true, sometimes true, or just plain false? Lots of us derive comfort from believing that life is not simply a random series of events. We want to believe that God has a plan for us and that when things happen to us, good or bad, it is for a reason, perhaps even part of God’s divine plan.

There is, however, danger when we take “everything happens for a reason” to its ultimate conclusion; that is, to assume that God controls everything that happens, because we have to include evil. Surely God doesn’t cause evil people to do evil things. Surely God doesn’t plan for abuse and harm to come to children. Blame that stuff on the devil, not God.

In our text for Sunday, Moses is addressing the Israelites before they cross over into the promised land. He reminds them of the Ten Commandments and the rest of the laws and commands them to keep them. Then he makes it clear that they have a choice. They can hold fast to God and live long, healthy, productive lives, or they can choose to do the opposite and suffer the consequences.

So we have a choice. We have responsibility. Things happen in life, but we have the ability to respond to them with God or against God; for good or for evil. We also have the responsibility for acting in ways that demonstrate love for neighbor and love for God.

Yes, things happen for a reason. This Sunday we’ll think more deeply about what that really means.