The Problem With Saying, “It Could Have Been Worse”

by Steve Fuller

Where To Find Comfort

Two weeks ago I had a small stroke, which affected some of my peripheral vision.

This trial is small compared to what many people experience.  But it’s big to me, because  it now takes a bit more effort to read and write and do other everyday tasks.

As a result, I’ve been feeling some grief over this loss.  So where can I find comfort?

It Could Have Been Worse

At times like this, we often seek comfort by saying “it could have been worse.”  And in my case, it certainly could have been worse.

Strokes can destroy thinking, speaking, walking, and life itself.  But I’m still alive.  I can think, speak, and walk.  All I’ve lost is a bit of my peripheral vision.

So a few days ago,  when I was feeling low, I thought about how my stroke could have been much worse than it was.

This did bring me some comfort.  When I compared my loss to the losses many experience — I felt a little better.

But at the same time, I started to see some problems with this approach.

But It’s Right To Thank God

Not that I should be ungrateful that God spared me worse losses.  I am deeply grateful.

I thank God that I can still think, write, speak, and walk.  I thank God for another day to live for his glory here on earth.

But even though I thank God that it was not worse, I no longer seek comfort in the fact that it was not worse.

Here are four reasons why –

First — The “It Could Have Been Worse” Approach Is Not In God’s Word

I might be wrong, but I can’t think of any place where Scripture comforts us in our trials by telling us they could have been worse.

Scripture does comfort us in our trials by reminding us that they increase our hope in God (Romans 5:3-4), bring us a greater experience of Christ’s power (2 Corinthians 12:9-10),  purify us to receive more praise and glory in heaven (1 Peter 1:6-7),and produce more joy in Christ’s glory forever (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

So why not focus on the way Scripture gives us comfort?

Second — The “It Could Have Been Worse” Approach Does Not Give Lasting Comfort

I want a source of comfort that will always be there; that I can always rely upon.

But if my comfort today rests in how I can still think and talk and walk, then what happens if one day I can’t do these activities?  On that day I’ll have no comfort.

That’s why, again and again, Scripture urges us to find our comfort in the solid rock of Christ himself.  Every trial is a gift of more of Christ’s presence (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  So the comfort he promises me in himself today, will also be the comfort I can experience in him tomorrow — no matter what the trial.

As the hymn says, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

And here’s another problem –

Third — The “It Could Have Been Worse” Approach Will Not Help Everyone

Imagine a church small group comforting a stroke victim with the fact that it could have been worse, because he can still walk.

But what if another person in the group had a stroke that took away his ability to walk.  Where will he find comfort?

That’s why it’s best if the group urges each other to find comfort for every trial in beholding Christ’s glory — because then everyone will be comforted in every trial.

Fourth — The “It Could Have Been Worse” Approach Distracts Us From Christ

I wrote a post about why we should bless God if he takes things from us.  I said that God only takes something like my peripheral vision in order to give me the infinitely more satisfying joy of beholding Christ now and forever.

I said it was like someone taking 100 dollars from you in order to give you a million.  You would definitely bless their name.

So if someone took 100 dollars from you and gave you a million in exchange, where would you seek your comfort?  Would you seek it in the fact that it could have been worse — and they could have taken 200 or 300 dollars?

Not a chance.  You’d seek all your comfort in enjoying the million dollars he gave you.

So don’t seek comfort in how your trials it could have been worse.  Seek your comfort in seeing and feeling the all-satisfying joy of beholding Christ’s glory — now and forever.

Enjoy the million dollars.


This article has been reposted from the Living by Faith Blog.  The original article may be accessed here.

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