Do you find yourself at a loss for words when trouble makes its way into the lives of your friends? Do you sometimes turn away because the pain is just too intense and you just don’t know what to do?

Perhaps we can take a cue from the story of Job – the most famous story of suffering in the Bible, the blueprint for our response to suffering as well. After Job had lost all of his possessions and all of his family in the greatest test of faith as the result of Satan’s challenge to God, he was surely beyond inconsolable. He needed encouragement, healing, and strength from somewhere, and often, God will use the people He has placed in our life as instruments to provide such needs.

Did Job’s friends dodge his phone calls because they did not know what to say and send a sweet little card with some flowers? No. Rather, they jumped head first into the situation – becoming a source of healing for Job in the process.

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:11-13).

1 – Go to them. Gas money, plane fare, or a bus ticket do not measure up to the value of just being with someone who you love and is hurting.

2 – Cry with them. Such an emotional response is the epitome of empathy. It does not display weakness and it will not make them sadder than they already are; rather, it might let them know that they are truly not alone in this.

3 – Support them. Just as Job’s friends tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads to demonstrate their sorrow and support, we can find ways to show our support as well. There is no room for judgment in the sorrow. There is no benefit in the “maybe, if you would have had more faith…”; “maybe, you should have done this…”; or “maybe, God is trying to teach you something”. If you love them, then support them, no matter what.

4 – Stay with them. Sure, maybe seven days and seven nights might be too long for you, but it is important to make sure you stay available throughout the term of their sorrow. A one-time prayer, a hit and run type “sympathy drop-off”, or the initial phone call all fade after time. It takes time for grief to soak in and sometimes it gets worse rather than better. Stay available for the duration – and going back to #1, make sure you go to them and continue to check in.

5 – Remain silent – listen when and if they speak. We need to keep our opinions, suggestions, and comments to ourselves. Sometimes, our helpful advice or reasoning can do more harm than good.

6 – Nourish them. Coffee, casserole, and cake have a way of tangibly offering something nourishing to their bodies while also offering a hint of nourishment to one’s soul. Shared with friends, they can be the bridge that can start to bring life back to your friend’s heart.

As a West Point graduate, Captain, and Apache Pilot in the U.S. Army, Rachael’s identity was firmly planted in that of soldier. She had taken the road less traveled and excelled in her demanding environment and career choice. Feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment, yet still missing something in life, God began to systematically dismantle everything that Rachael thought she was and to teach her what it truly means to rely on, satisfy herself with, and pursue a relationship with her Creator. Through experiencing and overcoming the challenges in her life and witnessing hardships in the lives of the people close to her, a strong desire was placed on her heart to reach out to those who struggle in life (and we all do at one time or another) and connect them with an all-powerful and all-loving God who cares enough to walk us through our valleys and rejoice with us on our mountaintops. As the founder and editor-in-chief of Shattered Magazine, Rachael’s desire is to create a publication that can cut through the noise of the rest of the world and help point people towards a truly satisfying and rewarding life (now and in eternity) – regardless of the temporary afflictions or momentary struggles that we may be asked to bear.