I’m thankful for friends I’ve brushed shoulders with briefly and those I’ve walked beside a long time — the friendly and the not-so-friendly. Their diversity amazes me! Who but God could connect my life with theirs.
Have you heard it said, “It isn’t what you know but who you know that counts?” Both the what and the who are important, but I’m holding closer to the who, than to the what.
If I sat down and made a list of those who have positively impacted my life, the page would be long and the pen without ink. I’m sure you would discover the same. To be known sometimes feels risky and perhaps even dangerous.
Several years ago, our son skidded off the icy road onto a frozen river. Someone seeing his predicament stopped to observe and help if necessary. “You’re a Ward, aren’t you?” he asked with a grin. As our son put the vehicle into four-wheel-drive and pressed the accelerator to mount the riverbank, he wished to be unknown rather than known.
I’ve had more than my share of embarrassing moments as well.
The Friendly Friend
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend spring from their heartfelt advice.”
I hope your basket is full of friends you can turn to for “heartfelt advice” — those who stand with you no matter what you’re going through. Even if sometimes their words are directive or corrective.
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Many times loyal friends loved me enough to instruct, even if it was with painful words. Their truth simultaneously stung and healed. Their correction brought me back on course, showed a better way, and challenged me to dig-deep and not give up on myself, God’s calling, or others.
We’ve all experienced those who have wounded us.
“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend.”
No wound goes as deep as the wounds of betrayal, whether intentional or unintentional, from those we’ve trusted. The psalmist David knew the pain, so did Joseph. Sold into slavery and imprisonment for fifteen years, he had ample time to think about how his own brothers sold him out.
Yet, he said,
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.“
When those who should have been his protectors turned unfriendly, Joseph recognized the sovereignty of God. He leaned heavily into God’s plan and trusted His sufficiency. Through forgiveness, he counted even unfriendly friends as part of God’s infinitely wonderful purpose.
Job showed another example of genuine friendship, in spite of harsh treatment in his most vulnerable hour.
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”
Only after praying for those who wounded him did God release a double blessing.
Becoming a good friend doesn’t happen accidently. Friendship costs! The “art” of friendship developed slowly for me. As a child, I preferred the company of animals over people and solitude above crowds. Trust came gradually.
I honestly wanted friends, but severely stumbled in my efforts to become a good friend. Friendship requires loving at all times (Prov 17:17), living sacrificially (John 15:13), dedication (Ruth 1:16,17), helping, forgiving (Col 3:13), patience and kindness (1 Cor 13:4).
The Best Friend
Several years ago, my very young granddaughter walked beside her mother down the street of a small city. A homeless man silently approached and passed them. With sadness in her voice, she softly said, “He doesn’t have a family.” Her little heart recognized the absence of loving support in the face of a stranger.
Even children sense that God has designed our lives to thrive in healthy interaction with others. For too many, such luxury remains absent.
Jesus made this remarkable statement,
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
Jesus, God incarnate, chose to call us His “friend!” Not because we are worthy of such favor, but because of His love and grace. His incredible gift of friendship gives us the ability to befriend others with similar love and grace.
How amazing is that?
Whether you’re surrounded by many or few friends, don’t dismay. Jesus calls you friend! No other friendship compares to His; He will never leave you or do you harm; He sticks close, never abandoning or disappointing. You can fully trust Him.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
That “closer than a brother” Friend is none other than Jesus Christ.
Jesus, a Friend to All
If you’ve never experienced the closeness of His friendship, my heart aches with understanding for you. Today, in the quietness of where you are, ask Him to come, not just to be your Friend, but your help, source and strength for all you need. Take this moment to turn toward Him, surrendering your life to Him completely. There’s no magic formula — just sincerity of heart.
To get to know Him more, download a Bible app for your phone or begin to read a standard hard copy, starting in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. By reading these portions of Bible, describing the life of Jesus on earth, you will discover more fully what an amazing Friend He is to all.
Blessings, my friends, I’m thankful you share your life with me.