By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
This is a very profound question and is a bit complicated to go into in great depth here. But I would agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith, “On God’s Decree”, that “God from all eternity by the most wise and holy council of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violation offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” That is to say, that because God created all things with a specific plan and purpose, everything that occurs whether good or evil, participates in the accomplishing of God’s purposes and therefore, all events happen for a reason.
Now here is when things get a bit tricky. To say that God ordains all that comes to pass is to say that all things that in fact come to pass do so for a specific God ordained purpose, there are no random or purposeless events. However, that is not to say that God has “directly caused” all things in the sense that he exerts a positive force to bring them about. God can “cause” an event to come about either by a positive exertion of his power, or by a passive allowance/permission of that event occurring using what we would call, secondary causes or means. In other words, God can “cause” an event in which a particular God desired result will transpire with certainty without actively bringing it about by a positive exertion of action. So in this case, the event in question would happen for a reason because all events are accomplishing God’s eternal plans and goals.
To address our question more directly, let us consider a few biblical passages. In Ephesians 1:11 we read, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the council of his will, so that we who were first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” So does everything happen for a reason? It seems to be the case biblically. The scripture speaks clearly of a pre- (before) destining (destination) according to the “purpose” of him who works “all things” according to his “council”. God has a purpose. Surely this purpose was something God had from all eternity. God works out this purpose after his own council; so this purpose is a result if you will of God’s own eternal council. Remember that the passage also says that he works “ALL” things after the council of his will. It seems as though God’s purposes are all encompassing, and therefore, all things that occur is a working out of God’s eternal plans and hence it seems, that all things would have a purpose or a reason for them to be accomplished or come to fruition.
Another pertinent passage would Isaiah 46:10 which reads, “…declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My council shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” This passage does not merely present a God who passively takes in knowledge of the end from the beginning, but rather, we have a God who “DECLARES” the end from the beginning. From the beginning, God can declare the end because what transpires is in accordance with his COUNCIL and his PURPOSE, and he perfectly accomplishes as the passage says, “ALL” his purpose.
Since God works “ALL” things after the council of his will, “ALL” things happen for a reason because “ALL” things are encompassed in that which he works out after his own council. For believers, this is a great comfort since we can rest assured there are no random and purposeless events. Even in our darkest struggles we can rest assure that God is working out his good purposes after the council of his own will for our good and his glory.