Darkness seems to be all around us.

And while some of us haven’t personally been faced with a difficult or heartbreaking situation, chances are many of us have friends or family members who have. How do we respond? What do we say? What do we not say? The truth is, many of us don’t know how to respond to someone who texts or DM’s us with some bad news.

In the book of Ruth, Naomi was in a really dark and difficult season. After enduring a famine and traveling to a foreign land, her husband and two married sons died. Naomi is left in a foreign country with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. When Naomi leaves to go back home, Orpah stays in order to find another husband, but Ruth travels with Naomi. You can read the conversations Ruth and Naomi had in Ruth 1:11-17.

Naomi, which means pleasant, ends up changing her name to Mara, which means bitter, “because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” (Ruth 1:20) Naomi felt that God was against her, that he had caused her the pain and sorrow she was going through.

But through it all,
in the midst of her sadness,
in the midst of her pain,
Ruth stayed by Naomi’s side.

She listened to her mother-in-law. She let her grieve. She even let her be angry with God.

Ruth’s faithful friendship with Naomi led to her eventually meeting Boaz, a man who Ruth ended up marrying so he could take care of their family. Ruth ended up giving birth to a son, Obed, who was a direct ancestor of Jesus. And finally, at the end of the book of Ruth, in Chapter 4, Naomi experienced renewal, restoration, and healing.

How we love our friends, and how we listen to and care for them in the midst of their darkness, can lead them to healing. But ultimately, how we listen and care for our friends in the midst of their darkness can lead them to Jesus, the ultimate healer.

This week, what is one way you can care for and stand by a friend in your life who is in the midst of some type of darkness?