I am Christian. I have been a Christian all my life. But there are some things Christians do that disturb people who profess a faith, or who don't profess faith of any kind, and frankly, it bothers me too.
When some Christians don't know what words to say to comfort a person or offer solace, "We" tend to share a reference in the Bible about faith, usually an implied or overt statement that the person suffering needs more faith, doesn't have any faith, or lost their faith. Or, a generic statement, something like this "You are hurting now. But God is in control and has a plan for your life."
While that statement intrinsically makes sense and I don't dispute it, it's not helpful during a painful loss. I KNOW God has a plan for me. Of course, He wants to make us more like Him, but right now I’m hurting, please do not give me some overused, simplified statement cloaked in biblical teaching.
How about going out on a limb and say “I don’t know what to tell you because I feel awkward and uncomfortable that you are hurting so much, I don’t know what to do or say. And I know that I may have to endure pain at some time like you are going through. I don’t know how to handle it.”
There you have it! That honest, transparent statement that you don’t know what to say while I’m hurting is perfect, for me! I don’t know what to do with my pain, I don’t expect you to know either.
We live in a culture that, including Christian, doesn’t know how to handle grief. Oh, we can talk about death and eternal life till the cows come home, but I dare say most of us in the church are ill-prepared to speak to the grieving widow, the parent who just lost a child or a spouse who has been cheated on. Those issues make us uncomfortable because we know it will or can happen to us at any time! So, we either offer a token saying, or we walk away and avoid the person when all we really need to do is provide a hug, or quietly sit next to them and say nothing while they are in anguish.
“This will pass” or “God knows how you feel” and in particular, “I don’t know how I would handle a loss if I had to go through what you are enduring, I don’t know how you do it” add vinegar to the open wound.
Just silence, your presence, an invitation to lunch, breakfast, or even an attempt at a bad joke is better than cliched Christian biblical philosophy. Our partner died, we didn't. Don't treat us like a leper.
I would love to hear a pastor at the pulpit some morning say this;
"Mr. (Or Ms.) Jones lost their child the other day to cancer. That plain sucks and life can really stink. Sometimes it doesn't make sense when bad things happen to good people, and evil people live and succeed. Go hug those people who are hurting so much, just ask to hold them as they suffer."
(A much-paraphrased message from Ecclesiastes)