Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Everything happens for a reason

Well, no, says one of my students. She wrote a story about losing her father last year. That means he died. She was real close to him, and has come to a denial of the wisdom she'd grown up with (imparted in the title to this post): there was no good reason why her father should have died. Death separated him from those who loved him and depended upon him. Plus, he was a nice guy. Everybody liked him. He did a lot of good and had more to do, etc.

Which led me to wonder: if he died for no reason, was he also born for no reason? Or are those different questions?


Image of Adam said...

I would submit that they are two different questions.

"Plus, he was a nice guy." A telling statement of most people who don't believe in God, or do, but in a packaged Santa Claus version of Him. To believe that everything happens for a reason but not have faith in that "reason" would make me think everything happens for no reason at all when faced with tragedy.

I think there are two possible circumstances governing when or why we die. We are all born for a reason, deffinately. Once that reason or reasons are fulfiled then we are allowed to experience the consiquences of this fallen world.

Either God has put me here to shape me into a creature destined for eternity, or to have an effect on someone else who is destined for eternity. The trials we face in life can break us down or build us up. Sometimes we need our pride to be broken, or we need our ability to be compassionate strengthened. The reasons we are born were determined by God before we were formed in the womb.

We also know the sun rises on the wicked and the good, equally. Death is a product of the fall from grace. Death was not apart of the origional design. With that in mind how can there be a reason for an individual death. We will all die as a result, when and how each of us go is small potatoes considering the big picture. No matter how nice we are the Bible doesn't teach that being nice will save our life.

Your student if facing a personal struggle that everyone eventually faces. I could speculate on all reasons why her father might have died at this point in her life with out ever getting it right. I wonder if she's more upset over her loss or the idea of her father missing out on the good he could be doing?

We are born for a reason. I just think that after we meet that reason we are free to die. Sometimes our death is the reason for our birth. Why do infants die?

Sorry if some of this sounds insensitive. I just finished reading Job. I will pray for this student though. My father is still alive and when I think about losing him it chokes me up. I do not look forward to sharing her struggle.

Meredith said...

"Or are those different questions?"
Yes, those strike me as two completely different questions. Life and death are not two balanced halves of an equation. Life is prior, life was intended from the beginning. Death was not.

I don't know that your student's former assent to that idea, "Everything happens for a reason," really counts as wisdom. Obviously she didn't own it from the inside. Hopefully she will find some true wisdom as she deals with this catastrophe. Her story could be part of that.

William Luse said...

Well, I imagine that when people say "Everything happens for a reason," it is essentially an appeal to God's providence. "It's all in the plan," in other words. Are you folks saying that, e.g., the circumstances of your death are not in the plan?

Marie said...

All of those accusations against death -- that it separates him from those who love him, stopped him from doing more, etc. -- presuppose that death is the end of existence. I believe death brings you closer, if you so choose, to the one who loves you the most and to any who have loved you and passed on and gone to heaven themselves, and the separation from the family and friends that are still alive is temporary. I believe there is nothing about death that prevents him from doing more good.

So if your student supposes death is final, then the question of wehter her father's birth had a reason becomes the question of whether a life can have a meaning under an atheist belief system (I suppose there could be a religion that believes in a God but not in an afterlife, but I can't think of one at the moment -- even a Budhist sort of thinking doesn't suppose an end to consciousness, does it?). I've seen arguments that life has meaning even if there is nothing beyond it, but personally I've never found them convincing -- they tend to be circular.

I'd tend to think this young lady is going through the traditional rebellious time when you reject the mores and faith of your father, I'm sorry she has to do it without his help.

Lydia McGrew said...

I put a comment on here. Where did it go? (Twilight Zone music.)

Lydia McGrew said...

What I said was, yes, he died for a reason. But to believe that, you have to believe in the true God. Everything else follows. And she probably isn't in a state to receive that right now.

Image of Adam said...

I posted a comment yesterday and it too isn't here.

"...the circumstances of your death are not in the plan?"

Depends on what we expect the plan to look like. I think bad things happen to good people as a result of having free will in a fallen world.

But those who are chosen for salvation are predestined to be with Christ. If I am chosen or not, God's plan cannot be thwarted. He may control the exact timing someone steps in front of a bus...or He may have allowed that person to turn this way or that and as a result end up in front of a bus.

We can't profess faith in God's omnipotent character and believe the circumstances of our death aren't apart of the plan. They have to be.

William Luse said...

Re disappearing comments, I can only suggest that after completing the word verification, you double check before closing the window. Sometimes blogger don't take it on the first go-round.

I don't really have a settled mind on this issue, i.e., whether they are two separate questions. I'm not swayed one way or the other by the "death was not part of the original design", because God knew before the creation of the world that death would enter in, and ended up submitting Himself to it. If there is reason, or meaning, to be found in dying, we will find it there. Our deaths often seem chaotic and purposeless in their circumstances, but then our conceptions are likewise contingent upon the freely chosen, highly contingent behavior of our progenitors. I take it we are born to know God (and, by derivation, to love our neighbors as ourselves), and death is our means of returning to Him. I am tempted to say that we are born to die, but it's probably more accurate to say that we are born to live, since death is a kind of birth. What we can't make sense of are the circumstances. I think my student was asking, "Why now? Why him? He wasn't done yet." Because she can't have the answers, she tends toward unbelief, while never asking the same questions about his being born. If his life had meaning, then so does his death. Yet we take for granted the former, and are angered by the latter. Notice how nimbly I ramble. I shouldn't have asked a question I can't answer.

Now let me see if blogge will take my comment.

William Luse said...

Nope, I had to do it twice. And re-enter my password.

Image of Adam said...

Just because we can't make sense of the circumstances doesn't mean there isn't any sense to be made.

God has to be the ultimate lemonade maker. Our free will has a limit. It exists to glorify the Father but it's not so powerful that it influences any kind of plan He has. The chaos of our deaths have real physical and spiritual consequences. I would think the circumstances surrounding them, however born of free will, have a genuine purpose.

To be subjected to the roll of the dice our parents threw and dropped us into existance is to random.

At the end of the day these are the kind of questions that have no answer. But that's why these are the best kind of questions to discuss.