Does everything happen for a reason?

by Matt Slick

From the Christian perspective, everything happens for a reason. The Bible says that God, " all things after the counsel of His will," (Eph. 1:11).  This means that every event that occurs does so after God's plan. God is not arbitrary. He knows all things (1 John 3:20), and since he created the universe, he created it knowing how all things would occur due to his ordination.  Therefore, everything that God permits to occur he permits for a reason whether it be good or bad (Acts 4:27-28).  However, we may not know what the reason always is.  But as Christians, we must trust that God's ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and that the Lord is directing our steps (Proverbs 16:9).

  • God causes the weather, Job. 37:6-13, “For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong.’ 7 “He seals the hand of every man, That all men may know His work. 8 “Then the beast goes into its lair, and remains in its den. 9 “Out of the south comes the storm, And out of the north the cold. 10 “From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen. 11 “Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. 12 “And it changes direction, turning around by His guidance, that it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth. 13 “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for loving-kindness, He causes it to happen."
  • The Lord does what he pleases, Psalm 135:6, "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps."
  • God does according to his will, Dan. 4:35, "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth. And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’" "
  • God has a predetermined plan, Acts 2:23, "This Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."
  • God determines times and boundaries, Acts 17:26, "and He [God] made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation.

Cause and Effect

Within Christianity, there is the concept of cause and effect. Though this is not in the same realm as God's decreed purpose, we can say that certain things occur because other things have happened.

  • "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully," (2 Corinthians 9:6).
  • Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life," (Galatians 6:7-8).

So, we could say that one of the reasons things happen is because there are natural consequences of what we do. If I put my hand in a fire, the effect will be that I get burned. If I lie, not only have I sinned, the consequences of lying can be severe. If I break the law, there are consequences varying degrees as well.  Therefore, we can clearly see that one of the reasons things happen is because they are the natural consequences of our actions. But, as far as God ordaining and having a purpose for everything, we must, as Christians, acknowledge that God has a reason for everything that he allows to occur. 

Let's look at things logically.

  1. God knows all things that will occur and might occur in different circumstances.
  2. Since God created the universe, whatever exists does so because God causes or allows it to exist.
  3. Nothing surprises God, or he would not know all things.
  4. Since God has all power, He can accomplish whatever he desires within our universe.
  5. Since God has all knowledge, then everything is known by God and must fit within his purpose.

Non-Christian perspective

There are different non-Christian perspectives in the world. In an atheistic worldview where no God exists, occurrences are more or less random.  The atheist perspective teaches that people must muddle through "accidents" and "incidents" and make the best of them. There is no reason and no purpose from a divine mind for the things that occur.  Life just happens.

In other non-Christian religious systems, there are a variety of purposes that various concepts of their gods would entail. In Hinduism with reincarnation, one's purpose is to grow in wisdom and attain Nirvana. In Confucianism purpose is based on learning and denying oneself.  In Islam purpose is derived from Allah who arbitrarily decrees heaven and hell for his followers.


God knows all things and is all-powerful, and it cannot be that God is surprised or that whatever occurs does so outside of the knowledge and control of the Almighty. Therefore, since God works all things after the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11), then we must conclude that God has a purpose for everything that occurs.



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.