Everything happens for a reason.
Has anyone said that to you since your or your loved one’s diagnosis? I’m wondering how it made you feel? I have to be honest and say that phrase usually annoys me. So if it’s your favorite phrase in life and you love to say it or have people say it to you often, you might want to skip this blog.
Well, because you’re still reading I have to believe it’s for a reason 🙂 and I’m praying God uses these words give you hope today as we wonder together what’s the “reason” for cancer.
I’m not sure who should get the original credit for that phrase: “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve seen it attributed to Marilyn Monroe and Oprah Winfrey and I’m sure many other famous and not-so-famous people have spoken it often. I remember using it myself when I was a new Christ-follower back in college (at THE Ohio State University) and someone (probably a visitor from that Team Up North!) stole my wallet right out of my purse in the checkout line at the campus bookstore. I was terribly distraught and remarked to my friend Vince: “I know everything happens for a reason, but I can’t figure out what God is trying to teach me through this.”
I’ll always remember Vince’s reply: “I’ll tell you the reason this happened—someone sinned and stole your wallet!”
I liked that explanation. I quit agonizing over some spiritual lesson God was trying to teach me. Oh, I definitely learned things from the incident—like closing up my purse faster and trusting God for the money I’d lost—but I stopped imagining that every single thing that happened to me throughout the day was orchestrated by God for a divine reason that I had to figure out.
The phrase “everything happens for a reason” probably has multiple meanings to the many folks who utter it. But the word “reason” by definition means there is an explanation, a justification or rational grounds for what’s occurring. What’s implied is there is a good reason behind every single thing that occurs. I’m just not sure that fits life here on earth.
What’s the explanation for babies with cancer?
What’s the justification for a married couple both having cancer at the same time?
What’s the rational grounds for a young parent dying of cancer?
Scientists will tell you that the DNA mutations which cause cancer are influenced by many factors including genetics, environment and lifestyle.
If you can discover the physical “reason(s)” you or your loved one got cancer, that knowledge may help you make choices which reduce the chance the cancer will come back or help family members prevent having to face the disease themselves. Personally, I had absolutely no known risk factors for getting colorectal cancer, so couldn’t really make any lifestyle changes. I did have genetic testing for Lynch Syndrome, which detects inherited mutations for colorectal cancer, but I did not have any of the known variations.
I honestly never figured out the “reason” I got cancer, but whatever it was, I knew that “reason” did not have the final say in my life.
Remember Joseph, the young man in the Old Testament with the “coat of many colors?” His jealous brothers sold him into slavery, but he became a powerful person in Pharaoh’s court and eventually saved their lives. When his brothers finally asked for forgiveness for their evil actions, Joseph replied: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
I don’t know why this ugly disease of cancer has “intended” to harm you, but I do know God can “intend” it for good.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Please notice this is a conditional promise. The working-together-for-good only happens to people who “love God” and are “called according to his purpose.”
The very next verse explains what that means. It says God “chose them to become like his Son.” That’s our purpose in life: to become more like Jesus. Then and only then can we be assured that everything that happens to us—even cancer—will be used by God for good.
Whatever the “reason” cancer has intruded your life, here is my prayer for you today from Philippians 1:9-11— I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character of Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Amen
P.S. Thanks for reading this today—I do believe it happened for a good reason! (Copyright 2102 by Lynn Eib, 50 Days of Hope)