Right Idea…Wrong Words

pic for miko of mydads burial

“Christians and non-Biblical responses to comfort grieving people”

I have a few questions that have been on my mind periodically over the last year. Recently, some comments have really started to concern me. These involve what people say when friends’ loved ones pass away. Now, I’m not saying it’s not a time to grieve nor am I saying the circumstances of the person’s death aren’t sad. However, I’m having difficulty understanding why Christians feel the need to make certain comments in order to “comfort” the person mourning.

1. For instance, Sally could say her Uncle Joe died, and she’s given responses like these. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I know he’s in a better place now.” “He’s singing with the angels.” “He’s in Heaven with the Lord now resting peacefully.” “He’s in Heaven doing (whatever his skill or funtime sport was) X along with the other angels now!”

Really? How do you know this? Did you know Uncle Joe? Do you know what type of life he had or what kind of relationship/walk he had with God? Did you receive a Word of Knowledge telling you to inform Sally that she needn’t cry because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s in Heaven? It may seem heartless, but I don’t understand the need to tell someone this as if we know what happened when he passed.

2. Suzy Q may say her young friend died and asked us to pray for him. Then, people will volunteer to pray for this deceased person.

Why? If you aren’t praying for him to be brought back from the dead, what is the purpose of praying for a dead man? Are we supposed to request that God allow him into Heaven? At the time of death, either he has or hasn’t accepted Jesus as his Savior and been born again. Our prayers are not going to help him after he’s gone since he’d be able to spiritually see on his own what the Bible has had written.

3. Sarah Lee might say her dearest grandmother died and that she misses her so much and then talks about the things she used to do. Someone will tell her that her grandmother’s spirit lives on in her and that odd little things that happen around the house are signs that her grandmother is looking over her shoulder as her guardian angel.

When did that start happening? She may keep memories of her grandmother in her heart. She may even act like her grandmother, but her grandmother’s spirit is not in her heart. Where, in the Bible, does it state that people we love will hang around the earth leaving little signs that they’re watching over us? God has already provided angels to protect us. The Bible also tells us to be absent in the body is to be in the presence of the Lord. So, that would indicate, to me, that any spirits hovering around and not comforting/protecting as assigned by God (angels) would have to be demonic no matter how nice the idea is. We are expressly forbidden to attempt communication with the dead because that is witchcraft/sorcery.

4. One of the biggest devastations to a family is the loss of a child. I’ll see someone write that such and such lost a child. Of course, we want to provide comfort and support because of the incredible heartbreak. However, it usually means comments like these follow. “God decided he needed another angel, so He took your son.” “God missed him so much that He wanted the child back in Heaven.”

Just because it sounds nice doesn’t mean we need to make our own ideas about life, death and the afterlife. God made angels, and He made mankind. Where is it written that when a person dies, he becomes an angel? Am I supposed to believe that God, the giver of life and healer of all infirmities, blessed someone to carry a child for 9 months only to decide a couple days later that God couldn’t be without that child because he was just too cute? The Bible tells us that He knew us by name and had good plans for us from the womb. Given the world’s history of abortions, infanticide and ritualistic sacrifices, would it make sense for God to kill a child after He’s given us so many commands to protect children, or would it make sense that Satan would want to take away life that could be used to glorify God?

I know I probably come across as mean, but I’m tired of hearing Christians make up things that have no Scriptural support. Now, if it’s in there somewhere, feel free to point it out. However, we should not be claiming to have knowledge about someone’s whereabouts when they die if we have no clue Who he/she served. Angels and people are not the same. Angels have a purpose, and mankind has a purpose. Angels will not become human, and humans will not become angels. Once we die, we will not be assigned to wander the earth looking out for our favorite relatives as their personal guardians. Our lives are but vapors in the grand scheme of things. God is not in a rush, so there is no reason to believe that He “needs” a child in Heaven immediately.

I realize that some people will say they’re just saying things to make people feel better or telling “little white lies” and no harm is done, but since when do we have a measuring stick to determine how much we can lie? How can we make up things and expect people to trust us or our God? It’s different ideas like these that have split our churches. There are ways to be comforting without lying on God. I think it’s high time we start making efforts to determine what God says about a subject before we offer our opinions as facts and misinform or mislead people.

(Originally posted 2010)

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