Before considering what to do to be helpful, Gavin Ortland suggests four things NOT to do. (Read the full article at “How not to help a sufferer.”)
In summary, his four things are
- don’t be too quick to talk about what God means by this.
- don’t be too quick to tell how your story turned out.
- don’t minimize the wrongdoing that led to the suffering (if this is part of the situation)
- emphasize how this will help them in the future when what they need is compassion and comfort now.
It’s worth a read.