Everything happens for a reason. That age-old saying has been used as a comfort and a thought provoking statement for longer than I know. It has a weight of mystery that bids us to plumb its depths and a lightness that makes us question whether the speaker is even thinking at all before speaking. Magical thinking is what comes to mind when some hear it while others sense a truth that needs no explanation.

Come with me on a little journey here. Find out what some very bright people think about this adage and see what you think after tossing it around a little.


“Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.”— Albert Schweitzer

“I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it.”— Oprah Winfrey

“I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. So you asked, ‘When things get really, really difficult in your life, what keeps you going?’ For me, it’s always that the most difficult moments in my life, the moments in which I believe I’ve completely failed or hit bottom, I can actually directly link them to something later that is either a true success or a dream come true. So, I do believe that if you can maintain that everything happens for a reason, you can find the strength and the lesson in those difficult moments and grow stronger.”–Troian Bellisario


“I’ve never had a tremendous amount of peace with the sentiment. I think it gives the terrible stuff too much power, too much poetry; as if there must be nobility and purpose within the brutal devastation we may find ourselves sitting in. In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into.“–John Pavlovitz

“The fact is that we’ve colloquialized the notion of there being a reason for everything to the point of absurdity. It’s not that “reason” is completely absent from our lives, or that it should be, but that we use it as a crutch for avoiding growth and often look for it in all the wrong places; a higher power, fate, a preordained script for our life, a greater purpose, or some omnipotent force of the universe that knows what’s best for us. What if it’s none of the above?”–Thomas Koulopoulos 

“All it takes is to discard the vain notion that everything happens for a reason is to imagine one small way that one small thing could be better. It would be better if everyone suffered a little less. It would be better if Lisbon and Port-au-Prince were not subject to hauntingly similar and equivalently tragic natural disasters on either side of modern history.”–Nicholas Clairmont

Reasonable Doubt

To declare that everything happens for a reason might seem completely unreasonable. I mean, come on, there’s a vast if not infinite universe out there where an incomprehensible number of things large and small are happening every instant. There are desolate places void of life where whatever happens would appear to be inconsequential. Is there significance in the longevity of a rock on an asteroid hurtling through space which will continue to do so until a supernova vaporizes it out of existence? Taking it to a higher level, does the unheard fall of a deceased tree in the forest happen for a reason?

It doesn’t take much to cast doubt on a sweeping theory that is mind bending to the average person. It’s used mostly as a matter of faith to comfort those who have suffered a loss of some kind or to bring order to a limited human mind that is understandably bewildered by the workings of the universe.

On the Other Hand

Despite the many logical arguments to dismiss the suggestion that everything happens for a reason, I’m inclined to believe in this theory. To begin with, I subscribe to the theory of intelligent design. Recurring patterns in nature, the ingenious course of evolution, and the presence of complex and specified information in natural objects are seen by many scientists as evidence of design as opposed to accidental development.

Secondly, I refer to my own intuition and my own experience. I can’t prove that my perceptions are accurate and rooted in truth, but we can only interpret our experiences for ourselves and accept them or reject them as we see fit.

It was approximately 15 years ago when I was in a spiritually transformative phase of my life that I perceived more than ever my connection to all that is. I had a heightened awareness of the natural life force within, often manifesting in love and joy. At some point during this period, I came to understand that every minute occurrence was significant. It was as though the Omnipresent was speaking to me always and if I could but listen attentively with an open heart and mind, I would be able to glean meaning from it all, even the whisper of the wind. In a sense, everything that happens is a long, ongoing glorious song, or better yet, symphony. It’s not always beautiful, at least in the traditional sense, but it all fits together in a mosaic that is truly beautiful in its esthetic complexity. Each piece has a reason for being there, though when perceived solitarily, its existence is not fully understood.