Assuming God is the cause of everything that happens in our life can turn some away from God. Do we want to give the impression that God causes evil that leads to so much suffering? People say in good or bad times “everything happens for a reason,” referring to a Creator behind-the-scenes. All the suffering in the world is not God’s will. God getting you that job suggests others didn’t get the same job because of God. I am not condemning those who have made this comment. Our words though can unintentionally confuse some as to what God is really like.
The comment “everything happens for a reason” can imply God willed such an event to bring something good from it. God doesn’t plan tragedy. God doesn’t cause a person to get drunk and then drive and kill your children. God doesn’t put the thoughts of rape into the heart of the rapist. God much prefers people live selflessly and not make decisions that harm themselves or others. Can we respect God if this isn’t true? I understand it brings comfort for many to believe God is in control, but the baggage is too much for many. God doesn’t have to control to be in control.
In the beginning God allowed humans control and the freedom to choose. If God had not given freedom we would charge God with a different set of accusations by not creating the “best” world. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even God can force true love. God interference may prevent a superior world from developing as a result of the moral improvement of free creatures. It is still true though that God will walk hand-in-hand and empower us to respond to suffering to bring good from what was intended otherwise.
Suffering is inevitable in a world where freedom is part of the creation. God did not even spare His Son of such potential consequences, though Jesus’ suffering was undeserved. The truth is I have become a better person, more aware of my character flaws, during suffering than prosperity. Suffering enables me to be more sensitive and serve others in similar situations. Miracles turned heads but Jesus’ suffering turned the hearts of billions of followers. Martin Luther King’s suffering moved the scales from the eyes of many how they tolerated bigotry. Those who have suffered undeservingly can help others better who have suffered similarly.
One may argue this is just semantics but let’s not imply God secretly orchestrates evil so good can be accomplished. God much prefer His children choose good from the beginning. We might be more sensitive to others by saying “I was grateful to have God by my side in this tragedy. I was fortunate to recover but I knew I would be made whole someday regardless.” This implies God never wished suffering or death in the first place. Athletes might convey they are appreciative of the opportunity to compete win or lose. God accepted the consequences of freedom and chose to lead as many as possible of their own volition to a paradise intended from the beginning. The only way we may be able to defeat evil in our world, other than destruction, is for individuals to persevere and overcome evil.