It Happens for a Reason
by Valerie Cabadonga
"It's going to be okay. Everything happens for a reason."
...a friend said as they tried to comfort me in a time of disappointment and frustration from life plans that have fallen through.
As comforting as those words sounds, most of the time I don't really end up feeling encouraged. What seems to be a pick-up phrase turns out to be a key that unlocks more questions that start with one word: why.
Human beings are wired to function through reason. With the power of the internet at our fingertips, we tap in to the billion reasons behind everything that happens in life, and we practice the same impatience and desire for immediacy in our search for knowledge that we have in seasons of our lives. We constantly ask God for why's in order to justify every season, every pain, every stretch. But as God lets life happen, we are left thinking in the quiet moments, "if I cannot know the reason now, then when? Is there even a reason to begin with?"
In search of relief from my endless why's, I came across Joseph the Dreamer's story. Man, his brothers' got issues. It feels like, in the midst of every season of promotion or of opposition, Joseph had his fair share of why's - why he was pushed in a deep dark pit; why he had to be sold as a slave by his own brothers; why he had to be separated from his beloved father, Jacob (Israel), and mother, Rachel; or why he was sentenced to imprisonment for a crime he did not commit.
Even in the midst of resistance, there were two things that were apparent in Joseph's story that I am continuing to learn - whether it's in a season of promotion or opposition:
- Joseph continued to talk with God, and God was with Joseph
- Joseph was diligent in every season. He did was he needed to do and he did it excellently.
And there have been plenty of days that I felt completely the opposite. I had many "we got this God" moments and ten times as many "why God" cries. But as I wrestle with my insecurities and doubts, God reveals that there is a reason why He holds off our reasons. It might just be the grammatical structure of the phrase 'it happens for a reason' but "there is a wisdom why the 'happens' occurs before 'reason,'" as the Spirit pointed out in one of our moments.
I believe that, even as slave, God sent Joseph ahead to Egypt to gain the favour of Pharaoh for Israel's move into Egypt and Joseph understood this by telling his brothers, "but don't be upset, don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives" (Genesis 45:4-8).
While Joseph faithfully held on to the dreams God gave him throughout his roller coaster of seasons, one by one, God revealed reasons for each. Joseph was led from a slave to Potiphar's personal assistant, from a prisoner to Pharaoh's right hand. Although it took 30 years or so for the ultimate reason to be revealed, Joseph held on to the truth that:
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people."
Sometimes, the reason behind the things that happen, when viewed in a bigger picture, is not for our own benefit but for those we pave the way for.
"Sometimes, the reason behind thing that happen,
when viewed in a bigger picture,
is not for our own benefit but for those we pave the way for."
Impatience has gotten the best of me on many occasions. I've decided to run ahead of God and make my own reasons like the 'this is not for me,' or 'this has nothing to do with what I studied in university,' or 'this is too tiring and I can't do this anymore.' But I am glad that even in my indecision, God remained with me and gave me strength to persevere. I am glad that God held off telling me the reasons behind my seasons because it has taught me patience when it wasn't my best forte.
If there is one thing that Joseph's story has taught me, it is to be a person led by season, not by reason. When we let reasons be our source of motivation, we end up depending on our own strength or questioning how we do everything. But when we remain as people of seasons, we are taught to be diligent and patient even in the mundane and menial. We work in partnership with God. I will always find rest on the truth that regardless of the reason God intended it for good.
"Be a person led by season, not by reason."
I am learning that our seasons are never in vain. Our seasons of stretches are also our seasons of preparation for the bigger reason. I learnt that getting out too early from a season that was intended for growth will only result to unpreparedness and setting ourselves up for failure. As James 1: 2-4 (MSG) mentions along with challenges are gift that stretch our faith, it goes:
"So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
"Our seasons of stretches are also
our seasons of preparation for the bigger reason.
Despite the stretches that come along, God has blessed me in return with provisions of my necessities to keep me going. I think it's only these stretches that I am proud of my stretch marks. Every stretch left a mark where I could say "that's where God delivered me...that's where God held me...that's where God provided for me..." The stretch has to happen before the mark has a reason.
You might be wondering, how could your pain be of any relevance in saving people's lives? To be honest, I don't know; that's a question only God knows. But I do know that one day, you'll cross paths with a person with the same hurts. Then you can say "I have cried where you have cried. I've been desperate for reasons like you have, but if God got me through, I believe He would do the same for you."
We may not need reasons to keep going, but we sure need God and His truth to keep us anchored in the waves of waiting.
Don't worry about the reasons. We got this. God's got this. God's got us.
So, let's keep going, okay?
"I will keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."