rebelling against low expectations

What would you say to someone who’s angry at God for a death?


HANNAH WRITES: These past couple of weeks I’ve had a non-Christian friend who keeps blaming God for death. She continues to question me about it, thinking I have all the answers. But the truth is, I have no idea what to say. Death is a really hard thing to explain to someone (especially if they’re a non-Christian!) and I don’t want to say something she may take the wrong way or say something that isn’t right. I’ve talked to some of my youth leaders and we’ve discussed it at bible study as well, but I thought it might be a good idea to ask the question online and see what other people say.

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  • Hmm… That’s a tough one. Last year one of my mom’s friend’s husband died, and she is a Christian but she is taking it very hard. I guess the only advice is just to show them some agape love (which means self-sacrificial love it’s the word used in the Greek Bible when God tells us to love one another and that God is love). So all in all, Just love them and pray for them (and give them hugs when necessary :D) and cry with them (cause everyone needs to cry every now and then especially when going through grief). Hope it helps. God bless you.

      • Glad it helps. Just keep being there for her and after the first year EVERYTHING gets better (after all the firsts). Keep fighting the good fight!

  • In all seriousness though, try walking them through the book of Job. Especially show them these verses:

    “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
    “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” =)

  • Here is the reality. People who are going through this time really don’t want to hear about the “goodness of God’s plan”, the “God is in control” line, Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, etc. It’s not that all of those things aren’t true, but I’ve had several extraordinary difficult things happen in the last year (including a death), and that was never the answer I needed. You see, the goodness of God doesn’t make the pain go away. The fact that God is in control doesn’t make it hurt less. Your friend is probably lashing out because she is hurting, and you, and ultimately God, seem like a good outlet. I’m not saying that explaining death, free will, God’s plan for us, etc., is completely worthless, but that may not truly be the heart of the issue. The theological arguments, as much as they may make sense to you, will not sooth your friend’s hurting heart. Scripture, such as Psalms, can be very comforting. The Psalms are chock full of verses about pain, suffering, and than ultimately, praise. Paul also discusses suffering and pain in the Corinthians. Another verse might be Revelation 21:4. Otherwise, just walk through the pain with her. Tell her it’s okay that it hurts. Life just hurts sometimes. It will ease as time goes by. Your job is to pray, to share the truth with her, but most importantly, just love her. The most powerful thing you can do to share God’s truth with her is to love her with the love of Christ. Remember, only God can truly open her eyes and allow her to see his truths. No matter how many time you give the arguments and point her back to the Bible, it is ultimately up to God. Your job is not to make her understand, even if she demands understanding and answers. Your job is to love her as Christ loves her.

  • Of course you know that God has a plan in it, but it’s hard for her to understand that. There’s a quote I love in John MacArthur’s book “Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible” in Chapter 3: Where was God on September 11? The concept might help your friend to understand. “The question we ought to ask is not why disasters sometimes happen. What we ought to ask is why disaster doesn’t happen all the time! This is the real marvel. It ought to amaze us that God, who owes us nothing but judgement for our sin, ordinarily chooses to bless us, bestow on us His lovingkindness, and blanket us with His mercy. That ought to keep us in constant astonishment and wonder. And it ought to keep us on our faces before Him in gratitude.”

    • I definitely agree with that quote, but I don’t think that that would be helpful to share with some who is currently going through a hard time (especially not a non-believer.) It sounds kind of harsh.

        • Yeah, echoing that concept would be good, and I’m a big fan of John MacArthur. However, before you articulate that concept, you might want to consider continuing to just build a relationship with this person by being there. Sometimes we have the tendency to lecture others; that is not always the right thing to do, and often it’s done with the wrong intentions. Once the person trusts you, then you’re in a position to have the Gospel really heard/listened to by them.

          Man was the one who rebelled against first, and since then we’ve been dealing with the consequences of sin. And yet, God has repeatedly called us to him and given us so many opportunities, whether through ancient Israel or today. However, most of all, God sent Jesus to die for us. If God allowed His Son to die for us — on top of all the other miracles we’ve already seen — then surely we cannot question His love for us. If we doubt God’s love when we see trials and tribulation in this world, let us only look so far as the Cross!

          Once we understand the origin of sin, and what God has done about it (e.g., providing us with a way to know him through Jesus), then the suffering around us won’t shake our faith or depress us.

          • I’m not necessarily saying that Hannah needs to go and share this truth immediately, it’s just a suggestion. Hannah seems to be asking for ways to answer her friend, so this is the answer, if Hannah feels it’s a good time to communicate this in any way. It’s up to her because she knows the situation.

          • Yea, she is asking a lot of questions (which is good) but I just don’t want to say something that is incorrect. I’m just looking for answers/suggestions for my friend that may help her understand/get through what she’s going through 🙂

    • While I agree with the message that this guy is getting at, I believe that part of being a Christian is doubting, is crying out in agony and asking “How long, O Lord will you forget me?”
      We need to understand that sometimes there are things that we can never understand. And the best thing is not to shake your finger at them and say “Hey, there are a lot more worse things that can happen to you, so instead praise Jesus!!!”
      I don’t know if that’s the best way to deal with deep hurt and brokenness. How about being there for them instead of chiding them for doing something that is normal and a part of life?
      This quote seems to treat grief as a sin. It isn’t. Grief is normal. God has created us with feelings. And He has given us freedom to express them.
      Think of it like this, if John MacArthur stood face to face with a survivor of the Cambodian Genocide, would you think it wise if he were to say this part from his book?

      • Ok, so I need to qualify that as I said to others, I’m not telling Hannah to go and directly share this quote. Yes, the wording is harsh, it’s for a different audience. (I’m sure John MacArthur would not repeat it to someone from the Khmer rouge regime.)

        I’m not necessarily saying that Hannah needs to go and share this truth
        immediately, it’s just an answer to her question. Hannah seems to be asking for ways
        to answer her friend’s questions of why God has allowed this death. If Hannah feels it’s a good
        time to communicate this in any way, it’s up to her because she knows
        the situation.

        I’m sorry if it seems insensitive. I wouldn’t have posted it if Hannah’s hurting friend was on here. I know Hannah’s friend must be going through deep hurt and brokenness, but she’s also asking questions. It sounds like Hannah IS just being there and comforting her, but if her friend is truly wanting answers, the concept behind the quote might be helpful to Hannah.
        I agree that grieving is normal.

        • Oh, gotcha! Thanks for clarifying and that is crucial, yes! Question though, is MacArthur addressing a Christian audience?

          • Umm, I’m guessing that mostly Christians would be reading that book, but who knows. It’s also in context in the book, and when people are truly seeking answers, we ought to do our best to satisfy. He’s not harsh and insensitive, it just seems like it when I’ve plucked the quote out of his book without context.

          • Yeah. I hope this author addresses my point that I made above. People are to doubt regardless of whether they are a Christian. We are made that way; to question, to doubt, to cry out in distress and still know that God is good. Just because we as Christians ask “Why are all these bad things happening?” doesn’t mean AT ALL that we are doubting God’s strength and goodness…it is just recognizing that we have great compassion for the world, that we feel overwhelmed, that we hurt with the rest of the world.
            I wouldn’t qualify this as a response to someone who is hurting from the death of a loved one. Even if they are searching for answers.
            I have no intention to be blunt/rude. I just think that there are better ways to share Christ’s love. Giving people answers doesn’t heal. Hurting friends can say they want answers, but internally they really want healing.

          • I can see your point that someone may be asking for answers but really desire healing.

    • This is a good point! Except it may be a little difficult for my friend to get her head around. Like for me it’s easy to comprehend and understand but she’s not a Christian…But if the opportunity comes up I’ll bring it up 🙂 thankyou

      • Yeah, I know it’s a difficult truth for those who don’t understand God’s sovereignty and goodness.
        I saw on your profile you’re Australian–me too!

  • I think definitely just being a light is a great testimony. If a Christian is ministering to her during this hard time, it’ll probably help her see God’s love even more than if you gave her all the ‘right Christian answers’ about suffering.

  • I feel so inadequate to answer this question, I can´t even begin to fathom the depth and reach of the full answer to question in all its true meaning. However, I´ve struggled with this question for a while, and have found answers in Scripture 😉 , so here goes my blundering attempt to understand all of this….

    1. Gen 1 ; “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth..(7 days of creation)..male and female he created them” – God created EVERYTHING, God had first ownership of humanity before we were born and he doesn´t owe us our lives, or anything for that manner. He chose to bestow life upon us and the planet.

    2. Gen 3 ; Adam and Eve sin, so they are cursed and cast out of the Garden, separating us from God. During the curse suffering (childbearing and hard toil) are mentioned, and then God says “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (19). So, the institution of death was created because our ancestors. (Gee, thanks)

    Skip ahead about 4000ish years

    3. Romans 3; Paul speaks eloquently on the Law, and our own imperfection, and says WHY we die and WHY we need a savior to, you know, not die. He writes

    “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” (21 – 25).

    So we´ve all sinned, therefore we all are able to die and perpetuate death. BUT the story doesn´t end there, we´ve been provided a way to live. Like CS Lewis explains in the Narnia Series “the deep magic was broken” and our Savior rose again on the third day, so we can be justified by faith and don´t actually need to be perfect and not sin-y.

    Of course there is SO much more that can be added to this, and it´s very likely that I will get metaphorically pounded in the replies because of my missing something or miswording something. But, anyway I hope this helps in something. I´ll be praying for you as you speak to your friend

  • This is a great question and a hard situation.

    A few months ago, I led a small group with a high-school girl who had lost her mother two years before. At the retreat we were at, she admitted through tears that it was the first time she had reconciled with God since the death of her mother.

    I guess what I’m getting at, Hannah, is that your friend probably has a reason for attributing these deaths to God, and I agree with many of the other comments that say the best thing to do is show Christ’s unconditional love. To that I would add prayer, as prayer truly has as much impact as speaking love to her in person.

    As well, I think it’s great what you’re doing. Seeking out wisdom from God and others is the right response. Rather than trying to come up with an answer, you make the right choice when you tell your friend, in essence, “I don’t know, but I love you enough to find out.”

    “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

  • Hi Hannah! First of all, I pray God blesses and strengthens you as you try to be a good friend. You’re in a tough spot, but I know your friend will appreciate you being there for her.

    The question of death is something I’ve wrestled with a lot. One of biggest times of spiritual wrestling in my life was when a couple at our church endured the pre-birth death of their full-term son. As a Christian, that season of wrestling taught me to trust God and find peace in him–even when I don’t understand. Jim Elliot once said that we cannot confine God to populating heaven with old people!

    However, the things that might comfort a Christian probably won’t help your friend. As others have said, just being their for her and demonstrating Christ’s love might be best. Maybe it would help you to study how Jesus responded to the grieving families he interacted with.

    My main advice to you would be to second Camden. Pray! God has been convicting me of this in situations with my friends. We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t have the power to give sight to the spiritually blinded. The best thing we can do is pray, pray, pray for God to comfort them, for God to give sight, for God to give peace, understanding, hope.

    Just prayed for you Hannah! May God be with you as you continue trying to find wisdom for this situation (James 3:17).

  • Jonah 4:9 ‘What right have you to be angry?’ Ask this gently and work from there. Or ask her does she believe in God or does she just need someone blame? Pray for wisdom and think about if there’s a way you can explain that it’s humans who broke the world and God is the one who mends and heals. You know her best, pray for wisdom in how to show her this. Take her to the living hope of the gospel – God does not abandon us in our despair (see Job).
    And grieve with her. Sometimes that’s what people need.

  • I am not sure how I would convince her but I will say this: Make sure your goal is to show her care and love and not to argue with her. If she is questioning God and death that means that she is probably hurt by a tragedy related to that. I would say be an awesome friend to her, pray, listen, and wait on tackling this issue directly for a little bit.

  • Well, I would direct them to the story of Job, as Job lost everything he had, Because Satan wanted to test him (Job 1:6-11)

    “Now there was a day when the sons of god came to present themselves before the lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the Earth and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the Earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou made an hedge about him and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face”

    Your friend has likely fallen victim to this trap, however, to explain this to her, calmly bring her to this passage, and then read on to show how Job responded to all this. I find this to be a great passage of scripture to help a friend who either is confused and bitter about death, or has lost a love one, and the bitterness comes from there. PRAY ABOUT IT!!! God will lead you to present this is the correct manner if you pray and fill yourself with his spirit. And also listen to what she has to say first, let her talk so she will feel comfortable on the topic, that is another key on helping someone understand,

    Good luck and God bless!

  • This answer is easier than it seams because the gospel is simple. God does not take life he receives it. The enemy comes to steal kill and destroy he comes that you may have life not death.

  • I have a question similar to Hannah’s, I just started going to a public school after being homeschooled for eight years, and I have a friend who’s dad and brother committed suicide. Everyone told her that “God had a plan” “God did this for a reason” so she started blaming God. My youth group meets on Wednesday nights and she’s willing come to two of them now. Over the weekend I found out the only reason she’s been coming with me was to get away from her family. I’ve witnessed to her, but she doesn’t she to truely grasp how good God is. What should I do now.

  • My sister who lost her daughter to gun violence always says ‘Why me’
    Why does God want me punished ‘Am I cursed’
    I wish I knew what to say
    I am just there present during our grieving time like a brother
    Can you please help on what to say

    • Just like God has a plan, the devil also has a plan. The Bible says that the devil has come to steal, kill and destroy. The enemy sees an opportunity, such as someone who has anger and hate in their heart, and he uses that opportunity to take innocent lives which in turn caused a ripple effect of pain and grief. It even causes people to doubt God’s love for them. God is there to give love, comfort and peace through all of our trials and tribulations. I pray your sister finds comfort and peace in the arms of Jesus!

  • I wanted to share that I have a coworker that his daughter passed away painfully with ALS. He is blaming God and Jesus. I feel bad walking into to work joyfully while he is hurting because now his grand daughter is going through complications and is afraid that he may hear that she has it too. I heard him out and wanted to correct him but instead I took time to pray for answers. Later that day, I recommended him a book I read when my brother passed “Is Heaven for Real” by Todd Burpo.

    He had a day off and came by work and told me thank you for giving him something tangible. He had overheard I was in a different state in my walk with Christ Jesus when I was talking to another coworker. People are hurting or don’t want to be in a religion. I told him I’m not in a religion that I have a relationship with Jesus. Now I know why he targeted me with questions. I told him stories about Jesus and the disciples that were in a storm in Galilee and how Peter feared after he was briefly walking in water and looked at the storm and waves as he took his eyes off our Lord.

    This story is ongoing but wanted to share how I navigated and on-going process. I pray he reads the book I love how this simplifies life and after.

rebelling against low expectations

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