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Friday, September 20, 2013

When Christian Love Backfires

Someone recently said to me, "I hate it when someone says, 'When God closes a door He always opens a window.'"

That was startling. It's a well-known and innocuous statement, and I had trouble seeing how it could cause offense. "Why?" I asked.

"Because my brother was in the WTC South Tower on 9/11. The stairwells were blocked. He jumped. Some window."

Actually, his language was understandable more vivid.

There was nothing I could say. That expression about God opening a window has long been one of my favorites, and hearing that take on it was both distressing and eye-opening.

"Well," I ventured, "under the circumstances maybe the window was the best of a bunch of bad options."

"Yeah. Thanks a lot. I'm sure he had time to thank God for it, on the way down."

I thought to say that his brother was in God's palm on the way down. Glad I didn't.

"God closed the door on the rest of Adrian's life. And the only window was a jump into, what, Heaven? Someone, some Christian, tried to tell me that."

I almost tried to tell him that. That was the second thing I was glad I didn't say. What I did say was, "I'm sorry."

"Yeah. Thanks. You know, I had to identify him."

"That must have been horrible." Something I could not even imagine.

"It was." He looked at me. "You're a Christian, too, yes?"


"Thanks for not trying to feed me any of that 'God loves my brother, and he's safe with Jesus' crap." He paused. "I think Adrian's still somewhere, and I'll see him again, but I'll always wonder where God's love was on that day."

I shook his hand in silence, and he walked away.

What would you have said?



  1. Wow that's tough. I honestly don't know. I'm sorry for your loss is about all I've got.

    1. Nancy, I think that you're spot on. Sincere sympathy is often the best gift we can give.

  2. I have no idea what'd I'd have said. I'd probably would've hugged him and said "I'm sorry. I have no words.And I apologize for the idiots who thought they did."

    1. When there are no words, there are no words...and it takes a wise person to resist the temptation to try ti fill a hurting silence.