Monday, September 19, 2011

"It Was God's Will"

For some time I have struggled with a comment that is often used but ill-advised. I know that it is said with a strong desire to comfort people when they are grieving, but I am confident that it is not the correct thing to say. In fact, it may simply be incorrect. I am talking about when, after someone dies, a griever is told, "It was God's will."

Years ago, in an article written to "Dear Abbey", a woman whose 14-year-old son had recently been killed in a tragic accident, lamented over several of the things people attempted to say in order to console her. One of the things she heard over and over was, "It was God's will." Consider her response, "I am no more (or less) religious than the average person. But if it was "God's will" to take may son at 14 and end his young life, then I want no part of a God who could be so cruel."

I've had this article in my possession for years. I have thought about it many times when trying to help others who were grieving. I used to be bothered by the part of her statement that said, "I want no part of a God who could be so cruel." But over the years I have learned that what she meant (whether she knew it or not) was - "I want no part of your misrepresentation of God."

I figured something out last week that to me is a real breakthrough. I know it has been in my mind a long time, but this is the first time I have been able to express it in the right way. This one fact alone, I believe, is the reason why you should never say to anyone who has just lost a loved one, "It was God's will.":

DEATH IS NOT GOD'S WILL! Death is Satan's will! It is God's will that you live forever. It was that way in the Garden of Eden. It was that way as the scheme of redemption unfolded. It was that way when Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. It has been that way ever since.

Death is a part of life. This is not God's fault, it is our fault (Ez. 18:20; Rom. 6:23). If you are lost and dead spiritually, this is not what God wants. It is God's will that you be saved and live.

I can only think of one person ever, who could have been told that the death of her child was God's will. But that was nearly 2000 years ago. I believe her name was Mary...

"Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" ~ Gal. 1:4


  1. Really awesome post, and you are so right. It is a hurtful statement, thank you for this.

  2. So true. This comes to my mind often regarding adoption. Many people casually say "God made her just for you. It was God's will you be together." That would mean also it was God's will that the birthmother died, or was raped, or was in peril from a government or starvation or some other evil. Those are Satan's horrible handiwork. If I have learned anything from this journey it is that daily supplication, prayerful listening, and faithful action allow you to discern when and where you should be when God grants you the opportunity to be a part of goodness and healing that overcome Satan's mess of things. Just as a mother who loses a child does not need God misrepresented, no child needs to hear that God created him or her as part of some grand plan to separate birthparent from child so an adoptive parent can find joy. That has to be a confusing message that could cause that child to reject such a God. I pray to find the right words to explain how God's timing is perfect and how His love flows through many people in our lives to heal the scars Satan inflicts.

  3. I, also, have heard this said to the grieving family. I have always said "I am so very sorry for your loss", if there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to phone me, I am sincere when I say this. Thank you for this post!

  4. Thank you. It's a horrible thing to say to someone who is grieving. It causes a divide between the person and God (as it did in the example). Also, it's horrible when people say "But you should be so happy for him/her - it's the greatest day of their lives (dying)." That completely negates and belittles the grief they feel because of the person's absence. I've also been told to "get over it" by brothers and sisters in Christ. But those folks go home to their families every day while many of us go home to an empty house. No one just "gets over it".

  5. Telling grieving people to call if they need anything is completely useless. We won't call. We don't even know what we need. How can we call when we can't even get out of bed? You be there for them. You take action because we generally can't do it for ourselves for awhile.