Often times, when a friend or loved one has passed, we are at a loss for words. We don’t know what to say, so we search for something we believe could provide comfort. However, sometimes what we say may actually confuse, complicate or even compound the grief. It is usually best to stick to short expressions of our heart (ex: “I am sorry.” “I love you.” “I am hurting for you.” “I am praying for you.” “You are special to me.”), and it is best to avoid stating things that we do not actually know or cannot prove.
An example of that last category of statements is when we attribute what has happened to be of God. We may say something like, “God must have needed him more than we do. We just never know when God is going to call us up. It’s all in God’s good time.” When we say something that attributes a person’s death “to God,” we are stating something that we do not know, that we cannot prove, and is typically something that is outside the scope of Biblical teaching. Let’s consider God and death for a few moments.
“God” and “death” are two things that do not go together, Scripturally speaking. How do we know? We know that “death” is the consequence of man’s sin, not God’s actions. “The day you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men” (Rom. 5:12). Don’t misunderstand. This is not stating that every death of a person is connected to their personal sin. No! But, it is connected to the introduction of sin into the world in Genesis 3. Sin brought about spiritual death and physical death. Thus, death is not the result of God’s action but of man’s choice in the Garden.
Additionally, note that death is the result of Satan’s work and not God’s work. Jesus identified the devil as “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Death is to be laid at the devil’s feet and attributed to him, not laid at God’s feet and attributed to Him. God and death do not go together.
In fact, just the opposite is taught in Scripture. “God” and “life” (not death) are tied together in Scripture. God “breathed into [man] the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). “In Him was life” (John 1:4). God is in the business to “give life” (Rom. 8:11), not death. That is such a critical difference to understand.
“Death” is an appointment that we all have (Heb. 9:27), but that is because of man’s introduction of sin into the world at the working of Satan. We may not know what to say at death, but let us not attribute it to “the Prince of life” (Acts 3:15), who “gives life to all things” (1 Tim. 6:13).