Six years ago this week one of America's best known pastors lost his son in a tragic car accident. But Greg Laurie turned his pain into an award-winning movie that's helped other people deal with crisis.
Laurie pastors one of America's largest churches, the 15,000-member Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. But despite his strong faith, he was literally knocked off his feet when he learned his son Christopher was killed in a car crash.
"I just collapsed on the ground and for days I felt like I was carrying a huge weight on my chest. I mean literally, I felt a physical pressure where I just (thought) 'How will I get through this?'" he remembered.
His wife Cathe said when she heard the news about their son, she felt her hopes and dreams disappear.
"That day I felt like God had taken a big eraser to this chalk board and said, 'No, erase this all. This isn't how it's going to play out,'" she said.
Whether it's the loss of a loved one, financial ruin or a health crisis, people everywhere are losing hope. But the Lauries say no matter what people are experiencing, they can find hope.
One way is by watching how others did it in their movie, "Hope For Hurting Hearts."
From Why to What
Cathe said she could have used a movie like this when she was dealing with her crisis.
"I wanted to look at somebody who'd been through this. It's one of the reasons we made thisfilm," she said.
The movie is a great source of encouragement for people going through a crisis right now.
But is also useful for people whose lives are pretty calm right now so they can prepare for how to respond when crisis hits. After all, few people go through life without being sidelined at one time or another.
"This movie will help to point them to God and say here's other people who've experienced something as bad as what you are experiencing, maybe even worse, depending, and there's hope," Laurie said.
In addition to the Lauries, the movie profiles the struggle of Nick Vujicic, who was born with no arms or legs. He recalled the torment he experienced as a child.
"I would try to put on a brave face at school, pretend it didn't hurt, but I would be up all night crying, praying, 'God, give me arms and legs,' and he wouldn't give it to me," Vujicic shared.
"Hope For Hurting Hearts" also lets us into the desperation felt by Christian singer Jeremy Camp, whose wife died of cancer.
Like many, Camp felt God didn't care when allowed her to succumb to her disease.
"To see not a progression, but a digression of what was happening in her health, there's just doubts. 'God are you listening? I mean, do you know that we're here? Are you hearing these prayers?'" Camp shared.
For the Lauries, Nick Vujicic, and Jeremy Camp, their healing began when they stopped doing what most people never break free from: searching for the reason why this happened to them.
Greg pointed out that God has his purposes and we often won't ever understand them in this life.
"We know ultimately God causes all things to work together for good. We know when we get to heaven our questions will be answered. So we shouldn't spend too much time asking the 'why' question," he said.
"Instead we should be asking the 'what' question, as in 'What should I do now? How should I react?' And I think what we want to do is lean into Christ, and seek to bring glory to His name through this. And one day all of those 'whys' will be resolved," Greg said.
Ending the Pain
Getting to that point isn't always easy. At first, Vujicic was so hopeless, he planned to drown himself.
Like many who contemplate suicide, he thought it was the only way to end his suffering. In Vujicic's case, he planned to drown himself in the bathtub.
"I knew what that water represented. It was the end of my pain, it was the end of hell for me, I just wanted out," Vujicic shared.
But right before he got in the water, he decided to give Jesus another chance.
"The revelation for me came from John 9," Vujicic explained. "Jesus came across a man who was born blind, and no one knew why. But Jesus said it was done so that the works of God would be revealed through him."
"And I'm like, 'Wow, maybe I don't need to know God's plan for God's plans to be implemented in my life," he said. "What if God did have a plan for me?'"
God did have a plan for Nick - a wonderful plan that was eventually fulfilled.
It included a wife, a child, and traveling the world spreading the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to millions of people.
"I hope people are inspired to see that you don't need arms and legs to be complete. You don't need arms and legs to be the hands and feet of God. All you need is to be complete on the inside and everything else will change," Vujicic said.
Song of Belief
Like Vujicic, Jeremy Camp almost gave in to his pain. Following the death of his beloved wife, he plunged into a world of darkness.
But just when he was about to give up all hope, he said he felt God's presence.
"It was just me going, 'I don't understand, it doesn't make sense, but I still believe in your faithfulness, and your truth, and your word,'" Camp said. "That was such a healing time for me."
That experience inspired Jeremy to write the song, "I Still Believe," which became a No. 1 hit.
Dozens of other No. 1 hits would follow and Camp soon became a leader in the Christian music industry.
The songs that were born out of Camp's pain have inspired millions of people and his music has led those listeners to the Lord.
Just like Vujicic and Camp, Greg and Cathe Laurie felt God comforting them in their deepest sorrow.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, they felt hope for the future and even felt joy again, something they didn't expect would ever happen.
Don't Give Up
Cathe said the best way to respond to hardship is to turn to Christ for comfort and strength.
"You are not in control, and you don't have control. But God is in control," she said. "And I was thankful that in my pain and in the crisis of that moment I was absolutely certain that God was not surprised by this, and that He was with us and that He would walk us through this."
"I think we're here on earth for two reasons. We're here number one, to know God, and we're here to glorify God," Pastor Laurie said. "But I have found that when we fulfill our purpose as Christians, we will find happiness as a by-product, not from seeking it, but from seeking Him."
So the message of the movie, told by people who have experienced the deepest pain imaginable, is 'Don't give up on God, because God will never give up on you.'
How to Help Others
While "Hope For Hurting Hearts" is a tool to help people who are going through crisis themselves, there's a similar problem that many of us face. That is the question of what to do when it's not us, but rather someone we know is facing a crisis.
It's often confusing to know what, if anything to do or say or do. We want to help, but many times feel awkward about the correct way to respond when a friend or acquaintance is experiencing pain, loss, or grief.
Greg and Cathe Laurie address this topic with some practical dos and don'ts in the interview below. Click play to watch.
Click here to purchase "Hope for Hurting Hearts."