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Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis (Part 1)

The following blog was written by Marilyn R. Gardner on her page ( and we are appreciative of her permission to pass on what she has written to our readers. Her words come from the same wisdom taught by Jim Kok on 'what to say' and 'what not to say'.

1. God will never give you more than you can handle. While some may believe it is theologically correct, depending on your definitions, it is singularly unhelpful to the person who is neck-deep in a crisis, trying to swim against a Tsunami.

A wonderful phrase recently came from Support for Special Needs. They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry." This strikes me as even more theologically correct.

2. It gets better. Yes, yes it does. But ... right then ... it’s not better. And before it gets better, it may get way worse.

3. When God shuts a door, he opens a window. Maybe, but maybe not.

Maybe he just shuts a door. Maybe there is no window. There was no window for Job. There was a cosmic battle that raged as he sat in distress. There might not be a window. And if Job’s friends had kept their silence, perhaps God would not have told Job to pray for them at the end of the narrative.

4. Did you pray about it? Again – theologically correct. “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything…” but in a crisis, you don’t heap guilt onto pain and suffering.

At a time of deep pain in my life, someone said this to me. I looked at him in silence, and then with a shaky voice I said: “We haven’t been able to pray in three months – so no, we haven’t prayed about it.” I was in so much pain – it was like he had slapped me.

Pray for the person, but please, please! Leave the clichés at home.


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