There’s two sayings you’re probably familiar with, often said by well meaning people attempting to comfort a friend. I’m certainly no theologian, but I’m going to address these statements from my experience of God and my issue with their inferences.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
There is a saying you’ll find in the Christian life (sometimes we call this jargon ‘Christenese’), ‘God has a purpose for your life’. And I whole heartedly believe this, our lives have purpose and meaning, we were designed to be spiritually connected to the God of the universe, the whole purpose of Jesus’ life is about restoring people to that beautiful place of connection; however, to say that therefore everything that happens to us was on purpose, takes our own humanity out of the equation and turns God into a cruel disciplinarian, doling out life lessons through pain and hardship.
That’s not the God I know.
In my life, the God I know has taken shitty circumstances and turned them on their head so that I come out stronger and a little wiser. Like an artist rescuing the scribbles I’ve made and using them to create a piece of art – the trick…handing those scribbles over to him in the first place takes trust and a good deal of tears.
So I don’t see my life as a series of pre-determined choices and events especially designed for me, but I see a creator and artist willing to shift my thinking and step in when I let him, using me for a much bigger eternal purpose than I can even imagine.
I didn’t have Little J because God pointed his magic wand at me and said “you can have this!” He just came to us because nature is at times unpredictable. But God saw him from the moment his little heart started to beat and gave his life meaning just as he does for all creation, so I will do all I can to listen to that purpose and be part of it.
“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
Oh man! This one is a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 in the bible…
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
This scripture is meant to act as an encouragement but too often is used in a way that discourages someone going through a trial. I’ll try and break it down.
- This phrase presumes that God sits up in heaven doling out life experiences to everyone. God does not ‘give’ us pain, sickness or hardship. Without going back to the beginning of the bible story, these things exist in the world today through human choices and a world that is a distortion of what it was created to be.
- This phrase suggests that we alone should be able to conquer adversity, and if you’re not handling it – you are failing God’s “test” or not measuring up. It’s almost like a ‘get over it’. Imagine saying this to someone who’s lost a child…I know I would not be able to “handle” something like that. Grief and disappointments are not meant to be ‘handled’ but ‘handed over’. It’s where faith shines at its brightest, in the tension of our hopes and devastations.
- The bible verse is encouraging people to look to God when things become overwhelming, because “when we are weak, he is strong”. It’s okay to feel weak, sad, hurt and frustrated. It’s so important to acknowledge our God given emotions – having these emotions is not a sign that you’re not handling life. Sometimes really bad things happen, and we need to weep and mourn before God, he’s big enough to handle our disappointments – especially when we are not. And when we’re ready, he’ll take our suffering and create something beautiful.
Comment below what cliches have bothered you!