Everything Happens for a Reason
Why is it that things seem to happen for a reason? Is it all one big set up? Is it simply chance and coincidence, those unexpected, abnormal things that sometimes happen to you and that prompt you to look up to heaven and give a knowing smile or cry out, "Seriously Lord?"
What about those times when it all seems to fall into place? Is it grace or serendipitous luck? What about a very, very bad day and you hear someone say, 'Well, when it rains, it pours'. When evil befalls us it is more difficult to say, 'It was meant to be' or 'everything happens for a reason'. We might someday look back in hindsight and recognize God had a hand in it or atleast he redirected the evil into some kind of good. But when I am wronged unfairly, it's really hard to get past the burning feeling of injustice in my soul. Saying 'everything happens for a reason' feels like I am giving up and not fighting. It feels like I am saying that I don't have a say or a choice, no free will.
God has a plan and we still have free will. That's how we account for evil in the world. "Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it" (CCC 311).
It’s okay to know that God has a purpose for your life without being fatalistic about it or denying free will. We are not predestined puppets on the stage of life, but we are in his story and he has placed each of us here in this time and place, with these family members for a reason. We are, each of us. a whole, unrepeatable, meaningful piece of a larger puzzle that mysteriously fits into the inevitable logic of the Logos.
A specific, tailor-made plan for individuals is consistent with the way God operates. He cares about the big stuff and the little stuff too, the macro and the micro. The plan we are called to is meant to coincide with the big plan of salvation. “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work." - St. John Henry Newman.
Think about it. It took millions of years for you to be created as you are. Your two parents had to meet, fall in love and reproduce, their parents had to come together to have them (thats four more people). This can go on and on in a giant inverted pyramid of couples with a tip that points to you. You are the culmination of perhaps millions of providential encounters between historical couples that passed on their traits to you. From the beginning, God knew he wanted you to exist..."You were chosen before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). This is not some Hallmark card sentimentality to boost your confidence. It's true!
God has a plan for those around you as well. There have been times in my life when I have recognized people as a true God-send. Were it not for certain mentors, teachers, coaches, family members, friends and of course, my spouse, I would not be the same. My life would not have worked out like it did. Some of those people were sent by God as lights who illuminated my path forward when I got lost. Some of them were connectors who introduced me to important, life-changing opportunities or influential people.
The Catechism speaks of these friends, "He also makes use of his creatures' co-operation... For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan...Though often unconscious collaborators with God's will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings. They then fully become "God's fellow workers" and co-workers for his kingdom" (CCC 306-307).
We are not nihilists. In the end, "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him" (Rm 8:28).
St. Catherine of Siena said to those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them... "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."
If you know someone going through a thing, something hard, let them know, 'God's got this'.