Series: The Things We Say
Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15 NKJV
Communication is an art—and difficult to master.
Life is never easy when parents lose an infant or young child. Though I’ve never said it, I’ve been in the presence of others who said to grieving parents, “God just wanted another angel in heaven.”
Every time I hear the sentence, I cringe and wonder what it means to the hearer. Do they think God is so capricious that He’d kill their child so He could add another angel to His force—as if He needs more? He has legions at His disposal. While the speaker is trying their best to give comfort in a difficult situation, they probably failed.
The above translation makes it sound as if God gets some sort of weird pleasure when Christians die. A more modern translation makes it plainer: "The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die."
Trying to comfort someone who has lost a child can be better accomplished by avoiding such a statement. Not only could it give them a wrong conception of God, but it could also lead them down an incorrect theological road.
Telling someone God needed another angel in heaven implies that we become angels when we die—which the Bible never states.
In correcting the religious leaders’ views about relationships in heaven, Jesus tells them there will be no marrying in heaven because we will be like the angels in heaven. He doesn’t say we will be angels. Just that angels don’t marry and neither will we.
This saying is one among many used when trying to comfort a grieving person. Situations vary, and it can be challenging to know what to say—which is why it’s better not to say anything sometime. Just be there.
Give a hug instead of a statement. Spend a night. Prepare a meal. Get them some groceries. Go pay a bill. Take their other children for an outing. Call friends for them.
The old adage is true: “Actions speak louder than words.”
And they may very well give the comfort we’re trying to give better than our words.
Learn to think before you speak when trying to comfort those who are grieving.
Prayer: Father, give us wisdom to use the right words when we are comforting those who have suffered loss.