Sometimes, I find myself envying the Christian (or religious) option of saying that phrase, like when a friend is sharing about something that’s troubling them, especially when it’s not something you can do anything about.
That single phrase puts across so succinctly so many aspects that I’d struggle to express in secular terms. It conveys:
– that you empathise with and feel their worry
– that you really wish and hope that things are all right or will be alright
– that you’re concerned for them and they’re in your thoughts
– that you’re sending positive vibes and feelings their way
and all this would provide a measure of comfort and reassurance to the other party in itself, never mind the added bonus for a believer in intercessory prayer that brings God further into the picture.
Previously (before I became this interested in the issue of religion), I used to wonder to myself if I should feel offended, grateful, or simply ignore it when Christian friends of mine said that phrase to me.
Offended: “No, please don’t pray for me. I don’t need the help of a god I don’t believe in, or having you feel good about yourself for praying when in reality you’ve done nothing to help.”
Apathetic: “Oh, it’s just something they say. Don’t think too much about it, smile and be polite.”
Grateful: “Whatever differences in beliefs, that phrase still shows and expresses concern, and that you’ll be in their thoughts in a positive way. So be grateful for their kind wishes and that they’d care enough to do that.”
Most of the time I’d choose to be positive and go with the last one.
Just some random thoughts.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying that you can’t express the same things with secular language; in fact you can probably do it in a better and more meaningful way. But for someone like me who often feels awkward and don’t know what to say even when I sincerely do emphatise very much with the other person, such a simple phrase that can be used in all situations and conveys so much seems to do the job very well.