Last week, I was watching an interview with Rick Warren, the pastor who wrote The Purpose Driven Life. He said, "All things happen for a reason. We may not know what the reason is, but all things happen for a reason."
Which leads me to suspect that Pastor Warren has never had anything bad happen to him, a thing so complex, a thing which caused intense suffering to someone he loved, a thing which could not possibly have a reason other than it happened.
Take, for example, my mother and father's progress through Alzheimer's dementia. Losing my dad to this disease was hard, but then going through it with my mother as well is cruel. Yes, we could say that we all have found a purpose in this experience--I volunteer with hospice and take the rabbit to visit those with dementia, and my sister and I have a much deeper understanding on how to talk to and reason with those with the disease, and especially on how to "go with the flow" with them. One grandchild will most likely spend her life working with those with mental illness, and another is interested in doing music therapy with those with brain disorders.
We have found purpose in what could have beaten us, and may still do so.
However, what possible reason could there be for my mother's suffering? What reason can we find in her constant state of confusion, as she mostly cannot remember where she is and why she is there? What purpose is there in her agitation and fear, so bad that she needs medication to keep the emotions under control? What good can we find in her not knowing those who were most close to her?
So, while we struggle to handle her situation with grace and with understanding, I do not want to hear that she suffers for a reason. I want to find reason in her suffering.