A statement Christians should stop saying: “It’s all Part of God’s Plan”

I recently wrote a blog about a statement that damages the Christian worldview more than any other: “You just need to have faith”. It seemed to hit a nerve with people in a way that a lot of my other blogs haven’t. My friend, Beth, then gave me the great idea that this could be whole blog series on statements that Christians make that are damaging to the Christian faith. I followed her lead, and figured I should throw the question out to my friends on Facebook to see what they thought were some of those statements. I soon found my Facebook flooded with some amazing answers that I hadn’t thought of, as a result I’ve decided I should take Beth’s advice and start this blog series. I hope you all enjoy it and please let me know if there are any other statements you think I need to include!

Check out the  statement Christians Shouldn’t Say: You just need to have faith

Many of us have heard this one before, perhaps said in a different way, but in one way or another we’ve heard someone say it to us and maybe even said it ourselves.  Maybe instead we’ve said, ‘God’s ways are not our ways’, or ‘God has a plan for all of this’, or even ‘God works in mysterious ways’

When we say this sort of thing as Christians it’s usually for to comfort someone who is going through a hard time. It could be a nasty divorce, perhaps a unexpected job loss, a sudden death of a friend or family member or some other hardship. We say it because we think the idea that God has this all under control will help them to have hope in the tough spot they are at. The problem is the wording, and timing of this is just off enough that it does more harm than good. Before I explain why let’s do a little bit of theological unpacking to figure out where we are getting this idea from.

God is all powerful and all knowing. In that, we know that nothing that God does can happen without God at least in some form allowing it to happen. In that sense it seems to make sense to say that ‘it’s all part of God’s plan’. The problem comes when life hits us hard and all we can say is ‘if this is God’s plan, than His plan sucks’. When someone tells you ‘it’s all God’s plan’ after your fiance dies in a tragic accident your reaction isn’t ‘oh, well if it’s in God’s plan, than I am fine with this’. NO! What you are thinking in that moment is ‘if this is God’s plan, I don’t want to be part of it anymore, because this plan sucks’.

So, what should we say then? God still is all powerful and all knowing so it seems like it’s still God’s plan isn’t it? Sort of. There is a difference between what God allows and what God wants.  I know that sounds counterintuitive so let me give an analogy.

If a mother tells their son to clean his room and despite having the power to force him to do so allows him not to clean his room, the boy is outside of what his mom wants but within what his mom allows. The same has happened with humanity and God. He wants us to live in the perfect, undiseased, perfectly moral world that he placed us in, but we have chosen to live outside of that and he has allowed us to do so.

So when we say to someone ‘it’s all in God’s plan’, we are wrong. It’s not God’s plan, it’s not what he had in mind. He allowed it, and so to that sense yes it is. He allowed it while knowing that this is what would happen but this is not what he desired, he desired us to be people that would freely choose him and as a result these bad things that happen to us now would never have occurred.

Now I realize that brings up a whole slew of other questions like ‘why God would create such a world if he knew, against his want, that it would end up the way it is?’ But for now we aren’t going there. This is the world we are in now so let’s discuss how we should talk about this world.

So knowing we live in this world fallen from God’s desire, we need to stop telling people ‘it’s all in God’s plan’. It’s not. This isn’t the plan. God didn’t desire for this horrible situation to take place. He allowed it. But he didn’t want it. Ironically, I think this brings us to two other statements Christians need to stop saying, ‘God will work this for your good’ and . . .



  1. I love the cliffhanger Noah! You are right there is plenty to consider in the first, “It’s all part of God’s plan”, and now, “God will work this for your good”. Though both statements are what I believe, I can see how they are of little consolation to the person in need of comfort who is now invited to deepen his relationship with his Creator. God not only allows us free will, but created it in with the desire that we freely come to know (have a relationship) with Him. We make choices but we cannot choose the consequence of our choice and how it affects our world and others in it. Our departure from God has resulted in the world we live today, a world of pain and suffering mixed in with laughter and joy. How would we know the depth of one without the other? Job pondered the same things and was answered. Having known both, the psalmist King David (acknowledging his own meekness), asks God “Who is man, that you are mindful of him …”, and Jesus answers in Matthew 10:30 “… even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” reminding us to “Let not our hearts be troubled”. Einstein reminds us “the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible”. We barely understand God’s power and presence, like the fish that cannot comprehend the water in which it exists. Indeed, this is how our environment, and ourselves as part of that environment, were created. And how small, yet important we are within that same universe, are allowed to experience, ponder (be mindful of) our existence with the opportunity to come to know our creator and His purpose for our being.

  2. After the loss of my mom I kept getting comments about “God’s plan” and let me tell you, not once did it make me feel better. You explained it perfectly. How and why was it within God’s plan to take my mother from me at such a young age? His plan consequently hurt my family’s life too. It just didn’t seem right that a deity that is supposed to be loving and taking care of plans for humanity, could think “wow I think a great addition to Carol’s plan would be an unexpected death. how fun.” Having someone tell me that I had to trust God’s plan just sounded like complete bullshit and you’re right, “his plan sucks”. The phrase is so inconsiderate of how a person may be feeling at the time and they have a hard time believing in a plan that has caused so much hurt.

  3. “Now I realize that brings up a whole slew of other questions like ‘why God would create such a world if he knew, against his want, that it would end up the way it is?’ But for now we aren’t going there. This is the world we are in now so let’s discuss how we should talk about this world.”
    You dont get to blow past this with “we aren’t going to go there”. Your so called god made the world, knew what would happen, and let it proceed. So what you’re telling me is that starving babies are born into this world and die from starvation or some sickness and it’s just the world we live in so it is what it is. Fuck that and fuck your god. I say hold this creator accountable. “God” created the world, “god” created sin, so “god” sends himself down as a sacrifice to himself for our sins that he created. Open your eyes and leave this indoctrination behind. Your religion isn’t even the oldest religion. Hinduism and zoroastrianism are way older. Educate yourself and ask questions. If your answer comes back to “you need to have faith then keep asking questions because you haven’t found your answer. Your bible says “wherever two or more are gathered in prayer there I’ll be and your prayers will be answered”. So why are there still sinners, why is there still hurting, pain, hunger. If “god wanted us to know his existence and follow his word then why are there so many religions, why are there so many denominations of christianity in america alone. Your god is weak and so are the teachings.

  4. If you don’t have faith in god then no it’s not gods plan. But if you truly believe and have faith in god then yes it is gods plan. God won’t force you to do anything, but if you ask for guidance then he will show you. That is Gods plan.

  5. I know this is an older post, but thank you for it. My mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer and I have people telling me this left and right. It’s NOT God’s plan. God would never make this happen. It is just a thing that happens because of the world we live in. God would be pretty crappy, in my opinion, to make anyone go through something like cancer as a part of some grand plan. I don’t think it’s a test of faith either. Anyway, this post just made me feel a little less furious.

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