I believe that everything happens for a reason... because things don't happen for "NO" reason, but I don't believe that everything happens to serve a higher purpose.
Some Buddhists will say that you experience disappointment in life because you had an expectation. No expectation - no disappointment.
Emily Dickinson wrote a poem that is one of my favorites of all time:
It dropped so low in my regard
I heard it hit the ground,
And go to pieces on the stones
At bottom of my mind;
Yet blamed the fate that fractured, less
Than I reviled myself
For entertaining plated wares
Upon my silver shelf.
Is it "fate's fault" that things happen the way they do? Or is it our fault for placing expectations on events and people?
I can interpret events that way to make them more palatable or to frame events in such a way that I can deal with them differently.
I don't think people are homeless "to teach them something" or addicted to drugs "so they can learn a lesson". I believe in cause and effect - and in the complexity of the human experience. Everything is NOT simply black and white
I watched a documentary on homeless people in Orange County who live in motels. The rent they pay for one room in a motel is in excess of 800 dollars per month. A single mom with three children who works cannot afford the rent on a studio apartment because a studio apartment rent is 1300 dollars or more. So... is she "homeless" because she has to learn a lesson? Is God trying to teach her something? She works. She does not do drugs or drink alcohol. Is she "less deserving" of a home than anyone else?
I don't believe so. I think that rent is ridiculously expensive. I think that it is expensive to be poor.
Do my boys have disabilities because they need to learn something? Do I need to learn something - because the reality is we CHOSE to parent these boys. They are disabled for a reason without a doubt. The REASON is that their mothers put things into their bodies while carrying these boys that affected their development, but even that is not as cut and dried as it may appear. Sure they put things into their bodies that affected the development of their children and will impact them for a lifetime. But the fact that they are where they are in life is a result of a lifetime of things that have happened to them - as well as choices they made.
Are children born with downs syndrome born that way for a reason? YES. The REASON is that there is a chromosomal abnormality as they were developing. Is it because of something the mother or father "did"?
I think not.
The belief that things happen for a reason can cause great pain and anguish for people. They blame themselves for things completely beyond their control. The grief and guilt can be debilitating.
NOW. Having said all of that. I do believe that WHEN things happen I can make a choice. I can chose to learn something, or to face it with a positive attitude. I can chose to pout about it, or to be mad and angry and resentful.
Things HAPPEN for a reason. Our adoptions take so long because we are working with a bureaucracy that is BROKEN, and with individuals who have agendas. Do I need to learn patience? Sure. Is this mess of an adoption happening because God wants me to be more patient? I doubt it. Can I look at all this mess and try to learn something from it? I should - but after the news today that the adoptions are delayed AGAIN I am choosing to be angry, to pout and to vent some of that anger and frustration towards someone whose agenda is getting in the way of my family being complete.