7 Things Christians Should Stop Saying in Times of Crisis

Clarence L. Haynes Jr.

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 24, 2024
7 Things Christians Should Stop Saying in Times of Crisis

When people face crises, it’s natural to want to offer some words of comfort. After all, the right word, spoken at the right time, can be just what someone needs to hear to relieve their soul. While that may be the goal, that is not always the reality. Unfortunately, even though we say them with good intentions, sometimes the things we say have the opposite effect. They bring little comfort at all, and instead of healing, the words may hurt more than they help. There are some knee-jerk things Christians say in these situations that we probably need to stop saying. Even though you mean well, chances are they are not making anything better.

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man carrying a stack of heavy rocks to illustrate god won't give you more than you can handle things you never say to someone during a crisis

1. God won't give you more than you can handle

While this quote sounds Biblical and even theological, it is actually neither. The thinking behind this quote comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The problem becomes that when you look at the context, this verse and the common quote are saying two different things. The verse talks about sin and temptation, not trials or crises. It also ends by saying that God provides a way to endure the sin and temptation: we may reach a point where we cannot handle it, and have to come to God for help.

Aside from being theologically inaccurate, the quote does not provide comfort. When you are in a crisis, the last thing you think about is how you handle the maximum weight you can carry. That does not bring relief to anyone.

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hands holding mustard seeds, faith of a mustard seed, you just need more faith things you shouldn't say to someone in a crisis

2. You just need to have more faith

This expression needs to be buried, and I will dig the hole to bury it in. In 2010, my late wife was battling cancer. A good friend told me about a church with a healing ministry, and she encouraged me to call them. I took her up on her offer, and I must say that was one of the worst decisions I had made that day. The lady was supposed to be on the phone to pray with me and encourage me. Instead, she told me that my wife would have been healed already if I had more faith. Thankfully, I was mature enough in my walk with God to know this was not true, but imagine if I wasn’t? When the call finished, I was more annoyed than encouraged.

I am not saying faith is not critical when you are praying and in crisis. However, more faith is rarely needed in a crisis. Jesus said if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. My faith ebbed and flowed in my situation, but I knew I had at least the mustard seed level.

When you say you need more faith, you blame the crisis on the person in the crisis. All this does is add guilt and shame to an already challenging situation. I hope you see why I want to grab my shovel so we can bury this one for good.

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next step written on sticky note, god helps those who help themselves things never to say to someone in crisis

3. God helps those who help themselves

It’s bad enough for people to say this. It is far worse when they believe this is a verse in the Bible. Two implications in this statement are not helpful to the person you say it to.

  • You are implying if you do more, then God will do more.
  • You are also implying you are not doing enough on your own to warrant God’s assistance.

This may not be the heart with which the person says these words, but this is how the listener may receive them. God never promised to help those who help themselves. He encourages us to call upon him in our time of need, and he will help us. The key is not doing more yourself but depending on him to come through for you.

“And call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15)

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man upset and stressed battling sin

4. What sin did you commit to deserve this?

Sometimes, this is uttered silently and not necessarily directly to the person during the crisis. The underlying thought is the only reason you are going through this is because there is some secret sin in your life. Let’s apply this logic to some people in the Bible and see if it makes sense.

  • What sin did Job commit that led to his crisis?
  • What sin did Daniel commit that led him to be thrown into the lion’s den?
  • What sin did Jesus commit that led him to be nailed to the cross?

Crisis alone is insufficient evidence to prove that your situation results from your sin. Your crisis could be there for an entirely different purpose. In John 9, his disciples asked Jesus a question in a similar vein about a man born blind.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’” (John 9:1-2)

Notice the implication that his situation resulted from some sin. They even said the man could have sinned before he was born (I wonder how that works). That’s why you must appreciate Jesus’ response to them.

“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:3)

Though it is possible that a situation can arise because of sinful decisions, that is not usually the case. Let’s stop assuming sin is the reason for a crisis or trial. Maybe God has something different in mind.

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woman thinking, help me to forgive

5. You should just forgive and forget

This saying is partially true because you should forgive. Throughout scripture, we are encouraged to forgive, especially considering the forgiveness we have received from the Lord. Yes, we should encourage everyone to forgive those who may have hurt them. However, forgetting is not as easy. There are some situations, such as abusive figures who are still trying to be involved in our lives, where we cannot completely forget because we have to set up healthy boundaries.

Beyond the fact that we cannot always forget, the larger problem is that this comment comes across as dismissive. Someone hurts you, and someone else tells you, “Just forgive and forget and move on with your life.” That is generally not how it works. We need to be mindful of the process of healing that must take place in a person’s life. Moreover, we cannot simply expect our brains to forget things. We may forget the pain the situation caused, but we may still remember what happened. What would be better to say is let’s pray so God can help you forgive and also pray that God would bring healing so you don’t hold on to the pain of the situation.

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man shrugging to say could be worse, things you never say to someone in a crisis

6. It could be worse, but at least you still have…

If I ever hear someone say it could be worse, my first response is to think, for who? This is another scenario where you don’t consider the current pain or emotions that a person may experience at the time. Granted, there is a measure of truth in this comment, but there is also a big dose of insensitivity tied to it as well. To say something could be worse is to imply that what you are going through is not that bad or as bad as it could be.

When you consider this comment, you can see that it is usually not the most appropriate response.

  • Imagine a parent just lost one of their three children, and you come to them and say, “It could be worse; at least you have two other children.”
  • Someone has a leg amputated, and you say, “It could be worse. At least you have one good leg left.”
  • Someone gets laid off from work, and you say, “It could be worse; at least you have your health.”

Regardless of the scenario, this is not typically a helpful thing to say. While, again, there is a measure of truth in this statement, the timing of it is way off. I understand the motivation is usually to help someone focus on what they have and not what they have lost, but that is not usually appropriate right away. There will come a time when you can see the remaining blessings, but that does not diminish the need to mourn over what you may have lost.

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man shaking his finger

7. You shouldn’t feel that way

I don’t like this comment because it does not allow for reality. By this, I mean we must allow people to feel how they feel. We are emotional beings, meaning when something happens, you will feel a certain way about it. How you feel is not the problem. What you do with those feelings could be. The Bible allows us to feel; it’s just that we must control what we do with those feelings.

“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Chances are, you will get angry at some point in life. Don’t sin in your anger; don’t be angry for too long because you give the devil a foothold. We can say this about every other emotion, too. In crisis, you may experience a range of emotions, and you can’t always help how you feel. However, you can help what you do with those emotions, and that is where your focus should be.

I want to leave you with one simple piece of advice. You don’t always have to speak. When someone is going through a crisis, they sometimes need a listening ear or someone to be present with them. Don’t worry about what to say. Instead, focus on being there when they need you. Most of the time, that will be more than enough.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com

Originally published Monday, 24 June 2024.