Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I've been hearing a lot of platitudes lately. People are losing their jobs, struggling with finances, and dealing with the realities of life in a crappy economy. In response to this, their friends, acquaintances, and facebook strangers are offering plenty of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" flavored responses. Not that there's anything wrong with trying to cheer up a friend or offer a bit of hope. But I guess that's where I take issue with the "Chin up, Charlie" crowd: Are you really offering hope? Or just empty promises and false prophecies?
The most common platitude I've been hearing, especially among Christians, is "Everything happens for a reason." This idea gets passed off as being spiritual and Godly, and while I suppose you could squeeze this phrase from some verses in the Bible if you had no regard for context, I don't find this idea to be particularly Biblical. Maybe that's because it is usually accompanied by a further half-truth, "I'm sorry [insert unfavorable event here] happened, but that just means there's something better out there for you."
I have a few issues with this mentality. First of all, although I firmly believe in God's sovereignty over all creation, I don't think that there is some specific, predetermined reason for every bad thing that happens in our lives, apart from the fact that we live in a broken world. I don't believe, like some folks, that the reason Hurricane Katrina happened was so that people would turn from their sinful ways and seek God. And as much as I love The Sound of Music, I am not entirely convinced that "when God closes a door, He always opens a window." I hate to say this, but quite honestly if you just lost your job in this economy there might not be something better coming along.
This post is getting depressing so I should probably just stop here. I'll end by saying that although I don't believe that there is a good reason for every crappy thing that happens, I absolutely believe that nothing, nothing, is beyond God's redemption. Tomorrow I'll write about why God's redemption is not necessarily "something better coming along," or at least not from the perspective of our upper-middle-class privileged American suburban lives.