Over the years, I’ve heard people—often well-meaning—say things to people in suffering that is at worst brutality and at best insensitive.
When you experience people that are suffering, here are fifteen things you shouldn’t do:
- Don’t say, “This must be happening to you because you sinned.”
- Don’t focus on things instead of people.
- Don’t insensitively speculate about what problems this suffering may be sparing them (e.g. “Your house might have burnt down, but at least you still have your car!”)
- If they have a fatal disease, don’t say, “Well, everybody must die from something. You have the advantage of knowing in advance what it is.”
- Don’t say, “I know how you feel.”
- Don’t rebuke them for what you perceive is their faulty view of God.
- Don’t say, “Isn’t it great to know that God is ultimately in control of all of it?”
- Don’t say, “You aren’t spiritually mature until you’re happy about this.”
- Don’t glibly quote Romans 8:28.
- Don’t assume that they are seeking an answer to the question, “Why?”
- When people ask, “Why?”, don’t assume that they are looking for a long, sophisticated answer.
- Don’t say, “You are continuing to suffer because you lack faith in God.”
- Don’t immediately try to solve their problem.
- Don’t pretend to know why God has ordained their suffering.
- Don’t ask, “How do you feel?”
This list is adapted from an article written by Dr. Andy Naselli here.