– by David Robinson
Q: Most of the people I am around on a daily basis are not Christians, and yet these are the people who are opening up to me about their lives, hurts, and struggles. I struggle to know how to offer help and hope to those who don’t know Christ and in some cases have stated that they are not interested in Him. Any advice on how to help people who don’t have that Biblical foundation?
This question was asked at our recent Canadian Biblical Counselling Coalition Conference. As I read the question I can hear the compassionate desire to help and share the hope of the gospel. This should be tremendously encouraging as you are seeking to connect the gospel to broken people. God is gracious to plant this seed in your heart and you can be confident the Lord will grow His fruit from that seed. Included are four general thoughts to help further your conversation of sharing hope to unbelievers who are hurting.
- The struggle to know how to offer help and hope to those who don’t know Christ is a larger question of how to share the good news in this world. This is encouraging as the Bible has a lot to say when it comes to helping the hurting and the hardened. Abraham was found as an idol worshipper, Matthew a tax collector, the Samaritan woman a serial “manizer” and Saul a persecutor. In each case, the gospel naturally engaged broken people. Abraham was introduced to the one true God, Matthew followed Jesus, the Samaritan woman worshipped the Christ and Saul bowed his knee before the Lord. While not minimizing the struggle on how to offer hope and help, the Bible rephrases the question to I may struggle with how to offer help and hope but I do have confidence Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit offer true and living hope.
- Be encouraged your non-Christian friends, even those who have stated they are not interested in Him, are opening up their lives to you and asking for help. What a testimony of the power of the loving gospel. Why are they coming to you? What (or who) do they see in you? Why would they look to you for help and hope? Your story is somehow different and they see hope in your life. In other words, the encouragement is they cannot help “hearing” about help and hope through your life. Our God is an amazingly winsome God.
- A natural way to include the gospel is to begin with your story of helplessness and hopelessness. We’ve been there with others so we don’t skip over the pain and suffering. We don’t forget to mention the last words of Psalm 88 when the Psalmist says darkness is my closest friend. We weep with them because we have known tears and betrayal and injustice. We let them hear that we still don’t have it all figured out. But we have hope even in our darkness. We begin to share why we have comfort in one who understands perfectly and has promised to show mercy and never leave. They may not understand … or they might but that is God’s work.
- Most importantly, as we travel through pain and suffering, hurt and helplessness, are we those who grow in hope and love for our Saviour? I believe this is important because if we are captivated by God’s goodness and compassion, an overflow of our heart will be to naturally talk about Him. It won’t come from saying the right words or having the right technique. Rather, it will come from a heart that has experienced the gospel in rich and deep ways. They will be words of hope because that is what we received from the Lord. And because they are words of hope, they will help. In other words, as we are captivated by God for God the question disappears and we count it a privilege to naturally and wisely share of God’s comfort.