These types of questions keep philosophers and theologians in business, so to speak. All people tend to wonder about such things.
I'm sure some events and situations have a purpose in our lives that have significance to us, but I admit, many life events can seem pretty random or insignificant.
Planned events and purposes
This past month, my wife and I spent time with our youngest daughter, husband, and now, two daughters. Our purpose in spending a month with them had two primary goals—being present for the arrival of our fifth grandchild and be of some help to our daughter and son-in-law.
We enjoyed our time immensely and fulfilled those two primary goals. But other life events took place while we were there.
I won't enumerate them all, but I want to note a few of them, then consider whether they are random, planned, or if their timing matters.
Random or planned?
The week we arrived, our granddaughter did not. If fact, it was the beginning of week three when she arrived.
The week we arrived, the pastor where my daughter fellowships announced his wife was pregnant. He shared with the church on the next Sunday about their miscarriage. It was a bittersweet morning, but the pastor handled it well.
But still, we awaited the arrival of our granddaughter, our daughter was overdue by a week or so. We were waiting with expectant joy and the pastor and his wife were grieving.
A death and a birth
Soon after our arrival in Germany, I heard of the passing of a dear friend in the US. I had been praying for her for several years, now I would pray for comfort for her husband and their three grown children.
They were a significant family in the life of the church we planted in the late 70's. They are good friends of ours and were some of our supporters while we were missionaries in the Philippines.
Over a week later, we welcomed little Brielle into the world and into our family. One person leaves this life, while another comes into it.
It's not so much the events, but the timing of these things. Is there significance to this timing, or is it just random?
Just before we left Germany to return to the US, I heard about a long time friend receiving a devastating diagnosis, and another friend passed away.
It's normal, maybe typical, for us to wonder about the timing of certain life events. But do we need to know or understand everything? Do we need to have a definitive answer and insight into it all?
Faith, randomness, and destiny
Some people see everything in life as random. I'm pretty sure that most believers in God, regardless of religion or theology, don't hold that opinion.
Still others see every event in life as part of a grand plan, even destiny. I suppose this can include people who are into conspiracy theories (I'm not one of those people, btw). The idea here is that every single thing is preordained (predestined) and has a meaning.
I don't doubt that life events have significance, but I've stopped trying to figure out how it all fits together, or whether certain events even do.
It's not because I don't care or don't think about all of this. I do. But I accept that some things are just beyond my capacity to figure out, and I've realized I don't need to know everything about all life events—mine, yours, or anyone else's.
Faith and reflection
An inherent quality of faith is trust. Not theological belief, but an implicit trust in God (Hebrews 11:6).
In 1997, a tragic fire took the lives of five children under our care, and nearly took the life of our youngest daughter. Everything we had in the orphanage building was reduced to rubble and ashes.
Remarkably, God sustained us in the aftermath. That's a long story all its own, but not for now. So many things didn't make sense, and yet it all made sense somehow.
Indeed, our family was in shock for quite a while, something like PTSD. All I know is this. God sustained us in ways we can't explain, through many people and a series of events that's followed that tragedy.
Why do we need to know?
People reached out to us, prayed for us, and cared for us. We, along with many, had the usual questions summed up in, "Why God?"
We don't have a clear answer to it all, but we clearly saw the hand of God upon us and the ministry for years afterwards.
I needed to come to a place of trust more than understanding. I accepted that I didn't need to know why.
It was a lesson in faith, in trust. Either God is God, or He's not. I believe God is sovereign and living and personal. I also believe in free will. I choose to exercise my free will to trust in the Lord without having to figure everything out.
That's faith. It's what Abraham was recognized for that brought him friendship with God (James 2:23). The Bible is full of similar people of faith, and I choose to be among them.
How about you?
Have you learned to trust God this way, or do you think you need to understand it all?
(Please feel free to comment!)