Evil is a part of our world. Terrible and tragic events happen every day. As Christians, we hope to navigate evil events with grace and compassion. But when we attempt to make sense of evil events, we often end up saying something unbiblical. We say things that hurt others we are trying to help. Here are some “go-to” phrases that Christians say that end up causing more harm than good.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
This phrase in itself is not biblical. The fact is that faith is not reasonable in definition. If it was easily verified by scientific evidence and facts, then it would not be faith, it would be a theory. The closest Bible verse says “To everything, there is a season” but it does not translate the same way. Additionally, many Christians use this phrase thinking it will make someone feel better when they would never want to hear it themselves. Even if there is a great reason for the tragedy that happened, it does not make the pain sting any less. If you had just lost a close friend unexpectedly and someone used this phrase you would feel that your grief was being dismissed. It also assumes that the event that happened had no influence by Satan, sin, and free will.
“This is an opportunity for the church.”
Can God redeem an evil act? Yes, He can. However evil acts should not be seen as “opportunities”. They are dark and tragic events that we should not seek to gain from. When bad things happen, it is not a time to look for an angle. It is a time to reflect, pray, strengthen our relationship with God, grieve, and show love and compassion to those affected. As a church, we should not have a greater agenda, because it makes us look opportunistic. God knows the intentions in our hearts, and if we exploit evil tragedies, we are not following His desires for us.
“This is because of God’s wrath.”
We live in a broken world because human nature is to sin. We continue to sin each day and society gets worse because of it. Evil acts, like terrorism or sexual assault, are ideal examples for showing the inherent sinfulness of our world. No matter why these bad events happen, it is clear that God was not behind it. He was not trying to punish the innocent victims for not following His Word. God’s direct intervention and punishment, as described throughout the Bible, is the exception rather than the rule. This is due to His supreme patience (Psalms 103:8) motivated by His love for us and desires to reconcile us to Himself for salvation.
“This is a sign of the apocalypse.”
This phrase is similar to blaming the evil event on God’s wrath. Saying that a horrible event happened because of the impending apocalypse is unbiblical. People who predict when doomsday is coming are carelessly reading scripture and making assumptions that God did not intend. Additionally, we are told several times throughout the Bible to never try and guess when Jesus would return. Mark 13:32 says “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” To say that an event is the sign of the apocalypse is saying that you know more than Jesus Himself. It also does not make anyone feel better – only that much more scared and stressed.
“God will never give you more than you can handle.”
This phrase seems rather logical and may even help calm you if you forgot your lunch at home or are having a following out with a friend. Saying it to others when evil strikes, though, really does not provide any comfort to the receiver. It can sound dismissive of the problem they are going through and can make them feel angry at the Lord. Additionally, the phrase is not a direct verse from the Bible like many people think. The phrase comes from a verse about dealing with temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says that with God’s help, you will never be tempted beyond what you can bear. It is a big difference between the cultural saying “You won’t be given beyond what you can bear.”
“Did you hear that…”
When evil happens, believers and non-believers alike are quick to try and figure out the “why”. Our desire to understand the bigger reason makes us easily susceptible to rumors and conspiracy theories. We feel an urge to pass along the news that might not be vetted by credible sources because it gives us a sense of peace and understanding. There is already so much misinformation out there that Christians should not participate in spreading. Followers of Jesus should always speak the truth.
When tragedy and evil strikes, Christians may not know how to best respond. We rely on quick inspirational messages or clichés to defuse the situation. However, these phrases rarely make anyone feel better. God wants us to respond to these dark events by praying, joining with other Christians, and finding strength in Him. Through God, we can heal and deal with negative emotions in an effective way.