Word of the Week

Everything Happens for a Reason . . . Not

"Everything happens for a reason" such are words that we, as pastoral care givers are often tempted to use though they are not in the Bible anywhere.

We deal with so much crisis. We get tired of saying profound things. We want to feel good about the care we are giving, knowing that our care is making a difference. We want to give people hope that their suffering is not in vain, that it will amount to something greater in the end. We want to be an expert with something to offer the pain of those in whom we are called to care about.

But the truth is we are not God. Sometimes there are no answers. And trying to give a plastic answer often makes it worse. (Read the book of Job lately?)

When I hear the words "everything happens for a reason," it's like scraping the chalkboard of my soul. For, as much as I am tempted to say such as a way to easily explain away life's pains for myself and others as a pastor myself, I simply can't say (or even hear) these words.

For everything doesn't happen for a reason. Sometimes life just sucks in this sin sick filled world we live in.  And often it is not our fault. It just is.

I grew up in a tradition of faith that taught when bad things happened in your life it was the result of either a) a major personal screw up b) being out of touch with a close relationship with God via doing things like regular Bible reading, church attendance and tithing regularly. I was taught about a "if/ then God."  If I do what God wants, then God will bless me.

I truly bought in to this way of thinking as a child, believing that if something was going wrong in my life, it was somehow my fault. God must be punishing me or trying to teach me a lesson. I remember the day my youth group leader told us that you could tell who was living right by who God was blessing with good grades, winning sport games at school, and happily finding mates after completing their "true love waits" pledge to remain sexually pure until marriage. What lies. And it got worse . . . we were told that those who faced difficult life circumstances such as death of family member, the coming of an earthquake or fire, or whose marriages fell apart usually resulted from sin. The reason for these horrible things happening was God saying: "Clean up your act."

Maybe for those of us who are leaders in giving care to others, we can find ways not to either explain away life's troubles with "it will all be good in the end" or "it is somehow your fault" instead to simply be with those in pain. Sure, there might be something beautiful that comes out of life's most tragic moments, but it doesn't take away the gut-wrenching grief of the process.

For I believe it is not important to figure out the why's of suffering-- life is simply too complex and mysterious such answers-- rather to simple be present in life's moments whatever they may be.  Knowing that as we stay close to whatever emotions we are feeling, whatever is troubling our souls, there will be a path of peace to lead us to quieter waters someway somehow.

Let us stop, my caregiver friends, making this pastoral fail. I wrote this blog for this reason.