Let Go of the Clichés
Sometimes, when we’re so focused on being an A+ Christian, we try to give the “right” answer and ignore not only our personal sorrows, but the sorrows of others. When people are at points of crisis, Christians will respond with sayings like “God has a plan”, “God is testing your faith”,“Everything happens for a reason”,”Time heals all wounds”,“He/She is with God now”. While these phrases aren’t intended to hurt a person’s feelings or ignore their pain, they come off like tossed clichés. When religious people do this, they are constructing what is known as a theodicy – a justification of God’s goodness, justice and omnipotence in the face of the world’s radical evil and suffering. While theodicy lies at the center of a life of faith, how we think about theodicy impacts how we respond to suffering. Bussie explains “clichés attempt a feeble reconciliation of these two truths (1) God is good and just and all powerful, and (2) God does not stop – or chooses not to stop – pain, death, cancer, war, earthquake, unemployment, divorce, or fill-in-the-blank with suffering from your own life. These clichés even if partially true – wound us because they are oversimplified and superficial. They pay no attention to the unique experience of me or you, the person who is suffering.” People who are suffering often aren’t looking for explanations from you, but want to feel safe in God’s arms again. They don’t want a cliché assertion that ignores the pain they are experiencing.