This is part of long reflections about suffering from Martin R. De Haan II.  I found them something worth sharing, especially during Holy Week.  The entire reflection is very lengthy so I decided to break it up based on the section therein.

So why does a loving God allow suffering?

How Can You Help?

Right now you may be overwhelmed by pain. The thought of trying to help someone else may seem impossible. At some point along the way, though, as you receive God’s comfort, you will be ready to give comfort (2 Cor. 1). In fact, reaching out to help others may be an important part of the process of your own emotional healing.

Or maybe you have read this booklet with the hope that you will be better able to help a hurting friend or loved one. The suggestions in this section are designed for you as well.

Helping others is risky. Our help may not always be welcomed. We may sometimes say the wrong things. But try to help we must. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) reminds us that we are responsible to help the hurting people we encounter. Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t wait for someone else to act first.

  • Be physically present with them if possible and touch their hand or give an appropriate hug.

  • Focus on their needs and not on your own discomfort with not having adequate answers.

  • Allow them to express their feelings. Don’t condemn their emotions.

  • Learn about their problem.

  • Don’t pretend that you never struggle.

  • Keep your words brief.

  • Avoid saying, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or, “You know what you should do.”

  • Assure them of your prayers.

  • Pray! Ask God to help you and them.

  • Keep in touch.

  • Help them dispel false guilt by assuring them that suffering and sin are not inseparable twins.

  • Help them find forgiveness in Christ if they are suffering due to sin, or if they become aware of some sin as they reflect on their lives.

  • Encourage them to recall God’s faithfulness in times past.

  • Focus on Christ’s example and help.

  • Remind them that God loves us and cares for us and that He is in control.

  • Encourage them to take one day at a time.

  • Encourage them to reach out for the help they need (friends, family, pastor).

  • Help them to realize that coping with troubles takes time.

  • Remind them of God’s shepherding love (Ps. 23).

  • Remind them of God’s control over the universe, both the big and small events of life.

  • Don’t ignore their problem.

  • Don’t be artificial in trying to “cheer them up.” Be genuine. Be the friend you were to them before trouble hit.

  • Show them the love you would like other people to show you if you were in their situation.

  • Be a good listener.

  • Acknowledge how much they hurt.

  • Give them time to heal. Don’t rush the process.