If Everything Has a Purpose by God, Where’s the Cutoff?
If God has a plan for everyone, and everything has a purpose…does this include the razor nick you got this morning on your face?
Does it include the annoying hang-nail or the overcooked pasta?
These are perfectly valid questions, albeit with a hint of snarkatude.
As a Christian, I don’t believe that God has the so-called plan for us, because we have a free will. Even lower animals have a free will. Ask any dog or cat owner.
One might argue, though, that our seemingly free will to go to medical school or move to Alaska is actually being orchestrated by God.
- If everything has a purpose, where do you draw the line?
- What’s the cutoff point if everything is God’s plan?
If you’re in a car accident and end up permanently paralyzed, or if your child gets hit by a car while on his bicycle and ends up with two broken legs, that’s God’s plan – according to many Christians.
I once went to a business convention where I learned that one of the speakers wouldn’t be showing up because his car had been hit by a drunken driver. Another speaker announced to the auditorium that the devil was at work. Blaming the devil sometimes replaces “God’s plan.”
But how does the devil overpower God to create that drunken car accident? The answer is that he doesn’t, because neither God nor the devil made it happen.
The idiot who got behind the wheel drunk is who made it happen. Free will.
If your best friend gets terminal cancer, or if your grandmother falls and breaks her hip, that’s God’s plan – according to many Christians.
“Everything happens for a reason,” is what they might say. This perhaps also applies to your car not starting the morning of your job interview. However, typically, when something “happens for a reason,” it’s usually of a more serious – and especially tragic – nature.
This begs the questions:
- Is the sprained ankle also God’s plan?
- Is there a “purpose” to a paper cut that stings all day?
- Is there a “reason” for the clogged toilet or excessive mail in your junk folder?
What about a cold, a pulled hamstring, a mosquito bite or rush hour traffic?
Where do you draw the line when it comes to just what God’s plan is?
Being fired from your job seems like part of God’s plan. But is also being stuck next to a coworker at your new job who noisily chews gum all day long? Where’s the cutoff?
Only the Big Things Are Purpose-Driven...It Seems
Nobody would disagree that a plane crash that kills your spouse is a mighty big thing.
And nobody would disagree that a hang-nail is a very tiny event in life.
But there’s a huge grey area as far as what constitutes events that qualify for being part of God’s plan. This is because what one person thinks is a minor inconvenience, another person might become unraveled and see it as a major setback.
Losing a well-paying job may be seen as God’s plan because it results in significant anxiety and stress, followed by foreclosure and having to move into a friend’s basement. This is an exceedingly lousy situation that can spur the comment: “This must be God’s plan for me.”
However, a person who makes lemonade out of this lemon might not be as apt to believe it “happened for a reason,” and instead, chalk it up to “shit happens.”
Such an individual, though steamed over losing his job, might also use the experience to start the business he’s always dreamed up while merrily bouncing from one relative’s sofa to another, getting to better know his nieces, nephews and cousins along the way: “Oh well, that’s life.”
Examples of Grey Area Events
- Fender bender
- Hairdresser botched a hair coloring job
- Stolen car
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Examples of Definite Plans by God – According to the “Everything Happens for a Reason” Camp
- Baby has Down syndrome
- Family member’s sudden unexpected death
- Winning Powerball
- Getting into medical school
- Winning a major athletic event
- Getting one’s dream job
Right down to the last detail?
If everything happens for a purpose or a reason, how deep does the detail get? Does it get as far as the number of crumbs on your kitchen floor?
This plan that people speak of – it certainly has to have a point where a line is drawn, wouldn’t you think?
The vexing issue of the cutoff point strongly suggests the absence of some plan. There is nothing anti-theist about believing that at some point (perhaps four billion years ago), God stepped back to see how things would naturally unfold, and has been doing so ever since. This is why cancer can unexplainably go into remission, but an amputee has never grown back a limb.