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What are they thinking?

How to Share with Those Who Are Hurting



  • Passing Showers, Daryl Witmer

  • Getting Through the Night, Eugenia Price

  • Lament for a Son, Nicholas Wolterstorff

  • Parables of the Forest, Pamela Reeve

  • Where is God When It Hurts?, Philip Yancey

Christian Videos

Secular films dealing with loss and tragedy (from our Movies for Therapy page

Lorenzo’s Oil | Message in a Bottle | One True Thing | Ponette | Wit | Shadowlands | Dead Poets Society | Dying Young


Woman in wheelchair. Illustration copyrighted.An unsaved woman recently confided in a preacher that she harbored bitterness toward God, because both her father and her brother were victims of murder. The question then arises, how do we witness to a person is such a state? Do we blatantly talk about sin, righteousness and judgment?

The answer can be seen in the story of a little boy who was running through some woods. He suddenly tripped over a log and cut his jugular vein. His father quickly picked him up and held his finger tightly on the vein to stop the blood flow, as they rushed the child to a hospital.

Helpful Tips

If there has been a death, tell your friend that you are sorry about their loss.

Be sure to show GENUINE sympathy, concern and sensitivity.

Look for ways you can HELP in real, tangible ways. House cleaning? Yardwork? etc.

Coping: Ask God to give you the grace to be all you can be for your loved one or friend. Pray for love and patience. Your loved ones will need you now more than they have ever needed you.

The best thing you can do for your loved one who is suffering is to be there for them and to help them prepare for that day. A question to ask is “Are you ready to meet your Creator?” If he or she answers no, then you have a great opportunity to tell your friend that the Creators greatest desire is for us to have a personal relationship with Him.

—Compiled from Jim Uttley of Indian Life, Ray Comfort, and others.

As they entered the surgery, the distressed child held out his thumb to the surgeon. When he had fallen down a splinter of wood had entered his thumb. Of course the good doctor ignored the boy’s plea to remove the splinter, and immediately set to work on stopping the blood flow from his jugular vein.

There are not many in the world that escape suffering. Two hundred thousand people were murdered in the U.S. during the 1990s, leaving perhaps more than a million loved ones to fight bitterness, and to ask why God allowed the murder to happen.

No doubt each unsaved person held up a pained thumb to God, when He is more interested in stopping the blood flowing from the jugular vein. We expect God to immediately fix that which we consider the most serious wound, when God wants to first deal with the “sin” issue - that which will be the death and eternal damnation of us.

So, if as Christians, we care about the will of God and the eternal welfare of the person to whom we are speaking, we will go for the jugular; we will speak about the sin issue.

However, it goes without saying that we need to show a deep empathy for the person who has been through suffering as we gently take them through the Law.

Q & A

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

How good is good enough? Answer

This may take a little practice, but it is something in which each of us must become proficient, if we want to see the lost come the Christ.

This is how to best handle the sensitive issue of witnessing to someone who is hurting. Tell him that you are sorry about his loss. Again, make sure that you show genuine sensitivity, then do what a surgeon would do with a severed jugular vein. Turn immediately to the serious issue at hand - the person's salvation. Unless he was a Christian, stay clear of any talk about whether or not the loved one who died went to Heaven or Hell, by saying that God is good and that He will do that which is right on Judgment Day.

Say something like, “When we are confronted with the issue of death, it can often make us think about the issues of God, and about our own eternal salvation. Do you ever think about God? Do you consider yourself to be a good person?” Then gently take him through the Law.

If there is any offence, apologize and change the subject. But more than likely you will find that by talking about his personal salvation, it will be like a complete subject change, and therefore there wont be offensive.

If he is bitter at God and that is hindering him from opening his heart, gently let them know that many people have suffered terrible losses in this life, and they have let that suffering bring them to the Cross, and consequently to everlasting life. An analogy that may be helpful is to say that if someone offers to lift you out of quicksand, don't let the fact that you don't like the color of their skin or you can't understand why they are wearing certain clothes, etc., stop you from giving your hand to your rescuer. God offers to lift us out of the quicksand of death itself. Tell him: “Let Him pull you out, and once you are saved, ask your questions. If you don't get an answer in this life, you are guaranteed to get one in the next.”

Retired couple. Illustration copyrighted.

What should I say to someone who has lost a loved one through cancer?

Be very careful not to give the impression that God was punishing the person for his sins. Instead, speak about the fact that all around us we can see the evidence of a “fallen creation.” Explain how in the beginning there was no disease, pain, suffering, or death. But when sin entered the world, it brought suffering with it.

Q & A

Where did CANCER come from? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD THINGS—A loving Creator made our world, so why are their so many bad things int it? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

Then gently turn the conversation away from the person who died to the person who is still living. Ask if he has been thinking about God, and if he has kept the Ten Commandments. Then take the opportunity to go through the spiritual nature of God’s Law.

Someone who has lost a loved one often begins to ask soul-searching questions about God, death, and eternity. Many people are so hard-hearted that it takes a tragedy to make them receptive to God.

Author: Ray Comfort of Living Waters Publications

Issue of pain and suffering

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer