I, myself, absolutely hate that phrase. It’s right up there with “it’s part of God’s plan.” I mean, yes, I’m Christian, but I’ll show you why this is false.
When people are grieving, those two phrases are overused, and instead of making the person feel comfort, it makes them angry. How dare someone say that to me?! That’s usually one of the internal thoughts they have. Believe me, I’ve been there. And you can’t really hate someone for using those phrases, though, because the intent behind them is genuine, and they may not have been through the grief that the person who is needing comfort is experiencing.
I believe that, as a Christian, I have to look more carefully at the situation, and be there as an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. Comforting your fellow human being (especially if you’ve been there yourself), is always everyone’s aim, but if those phrases are used or someone tries to talk about God when someone is in deep distress, it will most likely create friction in your relationship towards this person. This is not the time.
A lot of people blame God or something they think controls the universe. It gives them power over the situation of which they are incredibly powerless. Blaming someone or something takes the edge off and helps them heal, even if ultimately the healing may be just a bandage.
I remember twelve years ago when my Aunt Peggy died, and how the two phrases (both used by multiple people) made me angry, yet I couldn’t release that anger. This was before my belief in God, and boy oh boy did I hate him (okay, so, obviously if I hated him, I had to actually believe in him. But that’s neither here nor there). I cursed at him. I was so hurt that I blamed everyone and everything I could, and that led me down the wrong path. I even pushed everyone away, and I only spoke to those people who would let me angrily vent. That wasn’t a good idea, since those “friends” were temperamental and left me because I was too emotional.
I was jaded and then my Uncle Ken died 5 month’s after my Aunt Peggy (his wife). I stayed away a bit. I was the maid of honor in my cousin’s wedding (it was her parents who passed way). Her wedding was the same year as her parents’ death. I had no idea how she was keeping it together when I was a complete mess. The fact that her other bridesmaids where all over 10 years older than me and basically took over the bridal shower and bachelorette party was a bone of contention with me, which ultimately pushed me even further away.
Now, I want to briefly talk about the God phrase that “it is God’s will.” If it was something positive or even a slight test, you can say that. But if it were something horrible (not when someone quite elderly dies… that’s nature), God doesn’t have a hand in it. See Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
We live in the world, we’re all given free will, and all of our choices are ours. God may have a plan for you, but it doesn’t mean that He jumped in just to make you suffer. That’s not what He does.
And even people with secular beliefs need to know that. Yes, you will still blame to try to control the situation. But I will be with you through it, and I will do what ever you need.