In the late 1990s, before my book Anchors for the Soul: Trusting God in the Storms of Life, I conducted a seminar in Phoenix entitled “Helping Suffering Families.” This seminar ultimately became the small group study book. I am making the powerpoints for that seminar available on my Bible Class page. Also on that page are teaching outlines and handouts for the series entitled Anchors for the Soul: Teaching Outlines. You can listen to a more recent version (April 2006) of the seminar through the audio download here.
Ultimately we may help families by presence, silence, listening, loving, embracing, but also by speaking words that remind us of the story in which we live. We can speak words about God’s love, his listening, his empathetic presence, his sovereignty and his victory. We can encourage the suffering to lament (even protest) while at the same time trusting the God who has revealed himself in the story of Israel and Jesus.