I understand sometimes people say this phrase to express a belief in the positive, as though they didn't just go through some awkward, horrible or painful experience (pick the adjective that applies) without it being for their or someone else's good. And the way it's said sometimes, you can tell the person is just brushing off the event that caused them to make the statement.
I've also heard people make this pronouncement as though the cosmos is energized towards making everything around and everything that happens to them a teaching moment or something that is going to bless them in the long run.
When people say this, it is as if they believe there was a specific reason whatever is going on needed to happen--almost as though it should have happened.
That's the part I disagree with.
Yes. Everything happens for a reason but not the reason most people are alluding to when they say it.
The Bible says that we are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12) and the reason many bad things happen is because Satan is trying very hard to destroy us. Much going on around us is happening for evil reasons--reasons that are not conducive to platitudes that imply a cosmic teaching moment. Many times the reason is simply this: Sin.
Sin causes horrible things in the world to happen. Sin causes children to suffer, families to break up, people to lose their lives, people to be addicted to harmful things and sin helps fill our prisons with human beings God had a purpose for but who chose not to follow Him.
So don't look at every little thing and say it happened for a reason when there was nothing good about it unless you are deliberately wanting to give credit to the devil for his workings. Because much of the time when something bad happens there is no good reason behind it--there is only heartache and pain because sin is causing people to reap what they sowed. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) And innocent people are hurt all the time by sin directly and indirectly as death works in every category of their lives leaving them without a sense of purpose, honesty, purity, holiness and Godly love as the best parts of who they were created to be are destroyed.
On the other hand though, in Romans 8:28, the Word of God tells us: All things work together for good to them who love God and are called according to His purpose.
This is a lot different than saying everything happens for a reason. This verse tells us that God can cause all things to work together for our good if we love Him and are walking in His purpose.
No wonder it is one of the favorite verses of many Christians. It tells us that even though wicked things happen to us or seemingly senseless things go on in our life, He can bring good out of them.
Now that is something worth praising God for.
I've had a lot of evil things happen to me. Sometimes it happened because I did not place myself under the protection and care of God's shelter but now that I am one of His, I know that God cares enough for me to cause these things to work for my good. Maybe the good will just be a teaching moment for me. Maybe the good will be that I repent and understand what others are going through who have done the same thing. There are a lot of possibilities. But if I am not under the shelter of God's purpose and plan for my life, I am not promised that all things are working together for my good.
So, claim "Everything happens for a reason," all you want but if you have not turned your life over to the One who gave His life for you, the reason may not be one you want to embrace at all.