As a Christian, I believe–indeed, I am set free to believe–that everything that happens is in some way meant to be, that all things occur according to the counsel of God’s will, by his direction. As a Christian I am set free to believe that everything happens for a purpose, even if that purpose is beyond our ability to comprehend.
People in general, it seems to me, have a very hard time letting go of the idea that at least some things happen on purpose, some “coincidental” events that make a world of change in a person’s life, events that one cannot imagine not happening. And this was one of the subtler points in 500 Days of Summer. The movie might have ended very cynically, and nearly did; but it just couldn’t go through with it. It had to cling to the notion that, if not everything, certain punctuated points along the timeline of experience are guided by, well, by–something. It is altogether too dismal an outlook to see no purpose or guiding principle to the occurrences that shape our lives most dramatically. It is too bleak. We cannot endure the thought. But why not? Why not? Something there is that doesn’t love purposelessness. That wants to break through that darkness with some glimmer of light, and believe despite unbelief that there is an end toward which we are each traveling. That we are nudged here and there in the direction of this end by, who knows!–God, the Fates, the universe?
This vague sense of meaning is like an altar to an unknown god, but I can tell you who he is. Proverbs 16 is as clear as it gets. Yahweh “works out everything for its proper end,” and although “the lot,” a game of chance, “is cast into the lap,” its “every decision” is from the Lord. “In his heart,” we’re told, “a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”