Several years ago when I first was diagnosed with a chronic illness, I confined myself to my home. The pain was debilitating. I was depressed and shut myself off from the world. My friends no longer were allowed to share in my pain or grief. I shut out everyone who cared about me. I was so blinded by my physical pain that I couldn’t connect with the love and encouragement my friends offered. Instead, I chose a world of seclusion.
As I was sitting alone in the unlit room, the phone rang. Without thinking, I answered it; my best friend was on the other end of the line. She began to remind me that I was missed and many were concerned about me; she shared scripture with me and tried to encourage me to press through this barrier I had built around my heart. I told her I didn’t feel loved and I certainly didn’t feel lovable. It was then she reminded me of something I knew but had temporarily lost sight of: Friendships are a gift from God. It was at that moment my life began to change. Accepting the physical pain and the loss of life as I once knew it was certainly part of that change. But remembering the importance of being a friend by opening my heart to receive their love was the key to unlock the door I had tightly closed in the midst of pain and grief.
As I look back on this dark season in my life so many years ago, I can recount the many lessons the Lord taught me. But, one of the most important was that while friendship is something to be cherished, it is a two-way street.
Jesus understood the importance of true friendship; we can see examples of this throughout the Gospels. While walking and talking with the people, one can hear Him saying:
When you are sad, I will dry your tears.
When you are scared, I will comfort your fears.
When you are worried, I will give you hope.
When you are confused, I will help you cope.
And when you are lost, And can’t see the light.
I shall be your beacon, Shining ever so bright.
This is my oath I pledge till the end.
Why you may ask? Because you’re my friend.
What better example of a friend than the one Jesus set for us. He is a friend to us when we are unfriendly, when we are hurting, grieving, fearful, worried, confused, lost, and so much more.
It is interesting that many (if not most) people seek out friends in high places—people who have positions or status. If we’re honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we’ve been guilty of this also, always looking to befriend the one in charge, the one with the power, or the one with the most popularity. It seems to fulfill a need deep within us. But, there is One who has more power, is totally in charge, and the greatest Friend any one of us could ever have … the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are His, He calls you “friend”. My question today, however, is this: Are you being a friend in return? Are you in a reciprocal relationship with Him? Or, are you like I was in that difficult season in my life … sitting in a sort of seclusion wondering why your Friend isn’t there for you?
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
You have a true Friend. Open your heart. Pour out your love. Be a friend to the One who loves you most. Talk to Him. Share your deepest pain. Rejoice with Him when you’re happy and be transparent with Him when you’re hurt.
Lord, when I think of what it means to be Your Friend, I am overwhelmed, again, because of Your mercy toward me. Help me to be a friend, to be transparent with You, to openly share my pain and my joy. Lord, help me to open the door to my heart and be a friend to You while I learn to receive Your friendship toward me. Teach me, Father, what it means to be a true friend to the One who loves me most. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:23)
© Jan Ross
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