I consider myself a Christian. I believe in God and Jesus Christ. Religion is such a touchy and personal topic. Due to that fact, it’s not something I have written about much. Everyone has different views, and I don’t want to push mine on others. However, I’ve found that when you lose a child, many try to push their views of God’s role in the loss of your child onto you. It’s something that I felt compelled to write about because they aren’t just said to loss parents, they are said to anyone who is suffering.
Though meant to offer comfort, in reality, these comments hurt.
They also seem to actually comfort the person saying them more than the person receiving them. No one wants to believe in a God that kills babies for no reason, so they try to justify it to themselves by offering these generic “words of wisdom.” Some of my favorites are:
- “God needed another angel.” – Ok… so why did He need MY angel?
- “This was part of God’s plan.” – It was His plan to make me pregnant, carry my son for 32 weeks, only for my child to be born still?
- “God will not give you more than you can handle.” – So, you are telling me that God feels I am able to handle the death of my firstborn child at the age of 28? You’re telling me that is something that I should be able to handle?
The last one is a phrase that I have found to be the most offensive.
God will not give you more than you can handle.
It belittles the pain and heartbreak that I feel over the loss of my son. The statement is telling me that I should be able to handle the loss of my child. It implies that God killed Asher and inflicted this pain upon us. When you really think about what this phrase is implying, you may be able to understand how it can be offensive. It implies that all suffering should be bearable and that God is causing the suffering in our lives.
Months after losing Asher, I was listening to an old sermon from the pastor who married my husband and me. The sermon was on that exact phrase, and it broke down what it implies to the person receiving the comment. He goes on to explain that this constantly said phrase is not even in the Bible! Over time, people interpreted it from 1 Corinthians 10:13 “…And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
This verse in no way states that God wouldn’t give us more than we can handle. It says He would not let us be tempted, beyond what we could bear, and if we are tempted, He will be there to help us through it. The pastor says in his sermon that with temptation, we have a choice. We don’t always have a choice with suffering because we live in a broken world.
God is good.
He does not cause the suffering we experience, but He is there to help us through it. Without my faith, I would’ve fallen into a deep, dark hole after losing Asher that I would not have been able to escape. I remember being in the hospital with my son and my mother saying that she was so mad at God for this (as He is often the first person to blame when anyone is suffering). I told her she can’t say that to me, because if I allow myself to believe God killed Asher, I will not be able to move forward. Even then, hours after giving birth to my silent son, I knew God didn’t take Asher from us. I knew that I needed Him to help me deal with the loss of Asher.
Related: Finding Faith
I don’t believe God gave me this pain but that He is there to help me process it. He is there to comfort me when I need it. He is there to feel this pain along with me. God had a son, and He watched that son die. He knows my pain, and He is here to help me deal with it.
A PSA to all Christians who have used the phrase “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”:
Stop using it!
Don’t say it to the parents whose child was gunned down in yet another school shooting.
Don’t say it to the husband whose wife died of cancer.
Don’t say it to the couple struggling with infertility.
Don’t say it to the mother whose child was stillborn.
Just don’t say it. Instead, say that God is with you during this difficult time.
Don’t imply that God is the reason they are experiencing this suffering, instead confirm that God will help them through it.
Photo by Maia Habegger on Unsplash
Amy Lied is a wife and a mother to her son, Asher, who was inexplicably born still on February 19th, 2017 and twin daughters. Before losing Asher, she suffered a miscarriage and struggled with unexplained infertility. She has documented her journey from the beginning of her infertility struggles on her blog, Doggie Bags Not Diaper Bags. She is also a co-founder of The Lucky Anchor Project , an online resource for loss families that houses an Etsy store whose profits are donated to loss family non-profit organizations. She hopes to help others by sharing her journey as she continues to navigate the bumpy road that is life after loss.