It’s a phrase we most often hear when a child or young adult has died. We think that saying something like this lessens the pain the family left behind a feeling. Surely, they receive comfort knowing their loved one is so important to God.
But I have to wonder whether using this phrase is a good idea. Are we setting up an idea that God is a vengeful being that looks around the Earth and decides “Aha! That’s the one I’ll take for my plans.” Or, does God really have plans for these people and those plans require ‘another angel’?
God has plans
The first thing to remember is that God does have a plan for each of us.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah chapter 29 Verse 11).
The verse from Jeremiah might seem contradictory when we’re considering that someone has died, but I believe it shows that all things are within God’s plans. We don’t always understand God’s plans, thoughts, ways etc. so we must keep faith that everything is for His glory.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs Chapter 3 Verses 5-6)
The death of someone is always a sad affair, but being elevated to the glory of God is a blessing we can never fully appreciate until it is our turn. Perhaps through the death of a child, the family is brought to Christ to understand their pain. Maybe God wants them to use their experience to support another family going through the same thing.
Is God just vengeful?
The bible does describe a vengeful God. He punishes those who sin against Him. This, however, doesn’t mean he’s using these circumstances to punish the family. God might be a vengeful God but He is also a loving God.
God doesn’t look round the Earth deciding which juicy human He is going to take to punish the family. But He does look at a person, sometimes even a child, and say, “Yes, you are who I need to complete my plans”.
Why doesn’t He just use already sick children, like those with cancer?
In my opinion, God doesn’t use already sick children because it doesn’t fulfill his plans for those surrounding. Sick children can recover. They can instill a sense of strength in their family watching them battle their disease.
I watched a movie recently called Miracles from Heaven. In the movie, a young girl who is sick and in chronic pain is staying in a hospital room with a girl undergoing treatment for cancer. The girl gives her roommate a cross to help her with her cancer treatment. Later, when they learn the girl died, her father admits the last weeks were easier on his daughter as she knew God was looking after her. And while he didn’t really believe, he had stirrings in his heart.
Putting it all together
So, is the phrase “God needed another angel” the right thing to say, theologically. I believe so. Every one of us has a part to plan in God’s big plan and when we don’t understand it, we have to continue believing God’s plan is best, even when it seems contradictory.
When you’re next in the situation when this phrase seems apt, say it with conviction… because God did need that angel for his plans.
Emma is a full time admin worker with a passion for Christ and an interest in reading, writing and music.
Emma Seabrook’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emma-seabrook.html