Latter-day Saint Life

No, Not Everything Happens for a Reason—and Here's Why That's Important to Realize


When people tell you that you have some important lesson to learn from your suffering, politely tell them, “No, I have something important to teach.”

“Everything happens for a reason,” I am often told. Though millions believe this, I do not think it is true.  Trying to bring sense and order to random suffering and injustice is like expecting to see a Rembrandt or Monet in a pool of retch, another inevitable human byproduct. This primal urge to find meaning in everything is grounded in an ungodly appetite to control everything. 

However, God’s plan was not that he (or we) would control everything but that, through agency, most everything would become out of control. Consequently, accepting the randomness and injustice of life is part of accepting God.

I cringe nearly every time I hear someone say that “everything happens for a reason.” I cringe whenever I hear someone say God gives us trials so that we can learn from them. Do you know how that sounds to someone who hasn’t eaten a normal meal in three years and lives on a feeding tube? Do you know how that sounds to someone who has seen countless, innocent children dealing with the terrible fallout and aftermath of sexual abuse? It’s ridiculous to think that a good and just God would want any child to be sexually abused. It’s offensive for me to think that God intentionally deprived me of food for three years just so “I’d learn my lesson.”

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