Friends. They are easy to take for granted. They are easy to see as just happy additions to our lives. Those of us who have gone through hard times appreciate them immensely. However, have we given much thought to how faithful friends can help us in our walk with Jesus? Have we thought about how much good friends can amplify our courage?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
Think about the profound encouragement of these verses. First, when two people work together they have a great opportunity to see success. Second, when two walk together their time in the dirt is shorter. Third, when two are together the cold is easier to defeat. Fourth, the fights we face are easier to endure. Whether we are working, just living, facing calamity, or being opposed we find strength when we walk together. Do we believe it?
There was a recent study done by Cigna (the health insurance company) that found that almost half of Americans feel isolated or alone. Probably even more disturbing is that the study also revealed that loneliness relates to mortality at the same rate as smoking 15 cigarettes a day does! Having an active social media presence didn’t make the feeling of being alone any better. Screen time is not the same as face time. We don’t need strangers online. We need friends at home.
We shouldn’t be surprised at Cigna’s findings. The Bible speaks well of having faithful friends who call us to live for God and invest in others. The problem is that many of us use substitutes for friendship. We avoid rubbing shoulders with others and believe that our Facebook or Twitter followers are the same thing. We hide what we really feel and keep our friendships at the acquaintance level. We insulate ourselves from uncomfortable situations by using platitudes to shield ourselves from actually walking with people through their struggles.
The greatest commandment according to Jesus is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Do we seek to do that? Do we really seek to love our neighbor like we love ourselves? Do we seek out people to walk with? If you are wondering – yes, they will disappoint us at times. Yes, we will let them down too. However, that’s how friendships are forged – through thick and thin. When one falls down, the other picks him up. When she is working, her friend doubles her success. That’s what the Scripture says. Friends are worth it. Being a friend is worth it too.
Something to think about,
Oh yes! This is very good. Friends make life bearable in many ways. When our hearts are hurting, a smile from them can brighten our hearts and help us to keep on enduring.
When it’s uncomfortable situations, I’ve learned to look for ways to reach those dear friends, often in quiet ways, like water filtering around the rocks. I pray to God to show me ways to reach them. When I hear of one who wants to hide under their bed and cry out to God, my heart hurts for them. I try to find a way to reach them. Sometimes it is hard to find ways, but with God’s help I wait for the opportunities and then let them know how valuable they are.
In that same way, I thank God for how He knows what I need and provides friendship to comfort me when I need as well. I believe each friend is given by God at just the right times they are needed. They each have gifts that God uses in our lives. They are valuable. I just pray that God helps me to use my gifts to be that for others.