Bad things happen. When they do, sometimes we don't know what to say, but we should think twice before saying these things:
1. "God never puts more on us than we can handle."
Also, let's not forget that this sentiment is a common misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says:
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful; he will not allow the temptation be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (NLT)
This passage is about temptation, not circumstance. God will deliver us from temptation, but not from every single thing that could cause us heartache or pain. In those times, he is there to help us through precisely because it is more than we can bear alone.
2. "Heaven gained another angel today."
3. "Everything happens for a reason."
The truth is, this world is fallen. It's not the utopia God originally intended for us. Evil and sickness abound.....and sometimes bad things happen for no good reason. Can God work them for our good? Absolutely. Does he cause them to happen because he wills it? No. God is good, loving, and compassionate. He would not.....in fact, could not, will an act of evil, especially not as part of his divine plan. But in this fallen world, things happen. And when they do, he can work through them.
God is not the instigator of hardship and trial, he is the finisher.
When tragedy strikes, he is there. He is, as John calls it, an "advocate" or "helper." He is there to comfort us. To strengthen us. He is there to take what could potentially destroy us, and use it to better us for his glory. One of my most favorite examples of this is the story of Joseph. Despised by his brothers, sold into slavery.....in a seemingly hopeless situation. Yet, he rose to a position of great power, became favored and beloved, and when reunited with his brothers, in an act of love and forgiveness, he proclaimed:
"...You planned evil against me, but God used those same plans for my good..." (MSG)
When bad things happen, we want to give comfort. We want to allay fears and hurts.......but sometimes, no matter how well-intentioned we are, we say things that simply aren't true. Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all. Sometimes, the best way to help is simply to be present and available to those who need you. Offer prayer. Offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. It's ok to not know why things happen.....and it's ok to not know what to say. We have to be careful that we as Christians don't say things that undermine the integrity of God just so we have something to say. God is the mighty comforter, and no matter what we face, he is able to work all things, even those intended for evil, for our good. When we are in the midst of trials we don't understand......things that test and question our faith, if we must speak, let us speak to the sovereignty of God. Let us speak of his holiness. Let us speak of his matchless and unfathomable love for us. Let us speak of the victory we are promised through Jesus Christ over anything this world could possibly throw our way.
"Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen."
- 1 Peter 4;11 (NLT)