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Finding Comfort During Spiritual Shock

We need to realize that spiritual shock is a normal response to loss and allow ourselves time to work through it. We can do so by finding a Bible verse that especially comforts our heart. We can read it over and over when we can’t concentrate on reading longer passages. We can pray some of the psalms to express our shock and disbelief.

We can affirm our Shepherd’s caring presence even when nothing has changed about our heartache. David was transparent about his spiritual distress while affirming the Lord’s love and awareness of his anguish. “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul” (Ps. 31:7).

The Lord has also helped me by providing prayer partners. As we share and pray, the Lord helps us work through our reactions to the crisis. We give each other spiritual insights, permission to feel the way we do, and help each other find balance and perspective.

Ministering to Others in Spiritual Shock

How can we minister to hurting people when they express disbelief, are in spiritual shock, and question why God allows them to go through intense trials? How can we comfort others when they try to pray and cannot feel God’s presence or sense His care? It’s important that we do not make them feel guilty about their expressions of disbelief and feelings of distance from the Lord.

When people are in a dazed spiritual condition, they are unable to bear, hear, or receive our advice or the verses we quote. When praying aloud with people in spiritual shock, don’t preach at them by “telling God” how they should act or feel. We can silently pray for hurting people that they may experience the assurance of the Lord’s unfailing love and support. We need to be sensitive to others in pain by not quoting Scripture in a trite or superior way. Say as little as possible; show the genuineness of your compassion by your quiet gentle caring.

Job’s friends did one kind thing for him before they launched their verbal attacks. When they first saw him, they were so horrified by his devastating losses and disfigured condition that they sat in silent sympathy with him for seven days. “They were true friends, bringing to Job’s lonely ash-heap the compassion of a silent presence.”4

We need to sit with people in shock, wait for them to speak, and listen without giving advice. We can hug them, hold them, and weep with them. The most meaningful things we can say are simply: “I love you.” “I care for you.” Or “I’m holding you up in prayer.” We can allow them to guide us as to what they need. We can ask, “How can I best pray for you?”

A hurting person may say, “I don’t know what I need,” or “I don’t know what to pray.” Then we can reassure them that we will continue to pray for them and be with them when they need us.

We can send cards that express compassion and offer a comforting promise of the Lord’s unfailing love. I’ve kept cards and notes that have been sent to me when I was struggling with the shock and disbelief of a heartache, and sometimes I read them again for comfort.

Last year I went through a difficult five weeks after my doctor discovered a rash that he said could be cancerous. His alarm and over-concern scared me. Fortunately I did not have cancer, and the rash turned out to be insignificant.

During the weeks before I found out the results of the biopsy, I was in emotional and spiritual shock. This devotional book had just been accepted for publication, and I questioned how I could write this book and deal with cancer at the same time.

But I know many godly friends in ministry who have suffered catastrophic diseases and continued serving the Lord. Sometimes God deepens His work in people by allowing severe suffering. Those friends have encouraged me spiritually as they persevered in pain and maintained their faithfulness to the Lord.

Scripture Reading: John 20:24-29, NLT

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[a] was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Practicing the Spiritual Life

  • For what concerns are you struggling with unbelief?

  • Today look for and write down the ways you see Jesus’ caring presence in your life.


Jesus, You stood in the midst of Your disciples and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And You said to them “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Though I have not seen You, Jesus, I love You; and even though I do not see You now, I believe in You and am filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. (Luke 24:36-39 kjv; 1 Peter 1:8, all paraphrased)

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Prayers for the Hurting Heart