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By Lysa TerKeurst

I love Jesus. I love God. I love His Truth. I love People.

Both Christians and those who haven’t found their way yet,  I love them.

But I don’t love packaged Christian answers. Those that tie everything up in a nice neat bow. And make life a little too tidy.

Because there just isn’t anything tidy about some things that happen in our broken world. The shooting that happened in Aurora, CO over the weekend is awful and sad and so incredibly evil.

And God help me, if I think I’m going to make things better by thinking up a clever Christian saying to add to all the dialogue. God certainly doesn’t need people like me with limited perspectives, limited understanding, limited depth — trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense.

Is there a place for God’s truth in all this? Absolutely. But we must, must, must let God direct us. In His time. In His way. In His love.

And when things are awful we should just say, “This is awful.”  When things don’t make sense, we can’t shy away from just saying, “This doesn’t make sense.”

When my sister died a horribly tragic death, it was because a doctor prescribed some medication that no child should ever be given. And it set off a chain of events that eventually found my family standing over a pink rose draped casket.



Needing time to wrestle with grief and anger and loss.

And it infuriated my raw soul when people tried to sweep up the shattered pieces of our life by saying things like, “Well, God just needed another angel in heaven.” It took the shards of my grief and twisted them even more deeply into my already broken heart.

I understand why they said things like this. Because they wanted to say something. To make it better. Their compassion compelled them to come close.

And I wanted them there.

And then I didn’t.

Everything was a contradiction.  I could be crying hysterically one minute and laughing the next. And then feel so awful for daring to laugh that I wanted to cuss. And then sing a praise song. I wanted to shake my fist at God and then read His Scriptures for hours.

There’s just nothing tidy about all that.

You want to know the best thing someone said to me in the middle of my grief?

I was standing in the midst of all the tears falling down on black dresses and black suits on that grey funeral day. My heels were sinking into the grass. I was staring down at an ant pile. The ants were running like mad around a footprint that had squashed their home.

I was wondering if I stood in that pile and let them sting me a million times if maybe that pain would distract me from my soul pain. At least I knew how to soothe physical pain.

Suddenly, this little pigtailed girl skipped by me and exclaimed, “I hate ants.”

And that was hands down the best thing anyone said that day.

Because she just entered in right where I was.  Noticed where I was focused in that moment and just said something basic. Normal. Obvious.

Yes, there is a place for a solid Christian answer. Absolutely.

But there’s also a place to just weep with no answers at all.

God help us to know the difference.

Posted by Janie 7/30/2012 5:32:00 PM
You are so right. Just being with someone or sensing from the Holy Spirit that it's time the person has some solitude to grieve. That's I'd most helpful.
Posted by Janie 7/30/2012 5:32:00 PM
You are so right. Just being with someone or sensing from the Holy Spirit that it's time the person has some solitude to grieve. That's I'd most helpful.
Posted by Tracy Castle 7/30/2012 11:30:00 PM
What a beautiful article, cause is messy and painful at times.
Posted by Cliff 7/31/2012 7:36:00 AM
Who can know the mind of a sovereign God?
Posted by Kimberly 7/31/2012 8:47:00 AM
Somebody finally said what most people think. Even Jesus showed up and just cried sometimes and then sat with people.
Posted by Bonnie Templeman 7/31/2012 11:29:00 AM
Thank you Lysa, what a beautiful letter. You said it so well ...... Grief is hard and accepting what happens is even harder. I am so glad to have the Lord in my life with this grief journey I'm on....he is always there with us.
Posted by Debbie 8/1/2012 2:26:00 PM
I agree with Lysa... Too often pat Christian comments/answers (such as saying a Bible verse or common phrases)come across as hollow, blank. They seem too out of context, especially when true personal empathy is not included. It's sometimes better to say nothing....and to just be there, or let them know you're praying for them (and their loved one...), or that your heart breaks for them. This relates to all sorts of traumatic situations from deaths to illnesses to job losses to other disappointments.In our popular culture, we routinely ask others "How are you?" when we really don't want to hear the answer. We typically respond "Fine" or "Good" or even "Wonderful", when often we have problems, challenges, struggles ongoing. It can leave recipients feeling empty .... Expressing (some) empathy is so important.
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