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Does everything happen the way it’s ‘supposed’ to happen? - The Arlington Catholic Herald

A lot of people are losing jobs, losing income, losing homes, losing retirement accounts, etc. But it's more than that. For some reason, it just seems like more and more of my friends are facing crises of various sorts. Right now I have two friends with cancer, one with a baby in ICU and another facing the abrupt end of her only three-month-old marriage.

And that's before I even mention all of the friends with ill or dying parents, friends with money problems, and friends facing other various and sundry life-altering situations. I've faced a few significant challenges of my own in the past month or so, the details of which I may share at some point.

Why Does God Allow Natural Disasters to Happen?

But right now I have a different point to make. In the midst of all of these various crises, I have heard so many people attempt to console me, or themselves, or each other, by saying "Oh, well, everything happens for a reason. And I want to ask, "Really? Was the Holocaust 'supposed' to happen? Does a deadly earthquake happen 'for a reason'?

Seriously, I know people who say these kinds of things mean well, and there's a sense in which they're recognizing something that is very true and very important. But it just isn't as simple as "everything happens for a reason. I think people tend to look back on bad or difficult things that have happened in their lives, and in hindsight they find they can say, "Well, if that hadn't happened, then this other good thing wouldn't have happened. They credit God or The Universe, whoever that is for looking out for them, and figure the whole thing must've been part of The Big Plan - that God directed the bad thing to happen because it was "supposed" to happen, to bring the good thing about or to make them stronger people or whatever.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it implies we live in a pre-ordained world, where God is up there busily directing what is "supposed" to happen and we really have very little say or control.

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We're kind of like chess pawns in the great game of "What's Supposed To Happen. The thing is, we have free will. Seriously, I know people who say these kinds of things mean well, and there's a sense in which they're recognizing something that is very true and very important. But it just isn't as simple as "everything happens for a reason. I think people tend to look back on bad or difficult things that have happened in their lives, and in hindsight they find they can say, "Well, if that hadn't happened, then this other good thing wouldn't have happened.

They credit God or The Universe, whoever that is for looking out for them, and figure the whole thing must've been part of The Big Plan - that God directed the bad thing to happen because it was "supposed" to happen, to bring the good thing about or to make them stronger people or whatever.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it implies we live in a pre-ordained world, where God is up there busily directing what is "supposed" to happen and we really have very little say or control. We're kind of like chess pawns in the great game of "What's Supposed To Happen. The thing is, we have free will. Which means that things don't generally happen because God ordains them to happen.

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They happen because of the free choices of men. What happens isn't necessarily what God wants to happen. When people disobey His will, when they make bad or cruel or evil decisions, they are actually thwarting what God wants to happen. This, if we want to get theological, is the difference between God's active will and God's passive will. God's active will is what He wants to happen, the way He wants things to be. God's passive will constitutes all of the things He allows to happen - even if He doesn't like them - because of the free will He granted to us.

That isn't to say God isn't active in the daily affairs of man. I believe He is. But not in overriding free will to orchestrate our lives.


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It's in reacting to man's free will. What is your pearl of great price? For what would you sell everything to obtain?

For some it may be a particular possession or piece of property. However, the point of the parable is to show that the Kingdom of God is what we should be after, not some tangible item. We should be willing to sacrifice it all to obtain life with God.