On Loving Your Friends
SEPTEMBER 5, 2019
Identity: “I will love my friends.”
Scripture: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. – Prov. 17:17
I’ve heard it said, “A true friend walks in when everyone else walks out.” There’s something about the fact that when your life is an absolute mess, it serves to purify not only your inner-life but it also clarifies so many things about the relationships you have.
Some will see your mess and begin asking you obnoxious questions, seeking to provide some kind of theological or philosophical explanation as to why God appears to be “getting you back” or something like that (think: “Job’s friends”).
Others will find you in the gutter, see the blood and puss, and “pass by other the other side” because they can’t fathom God’s call on them to inconvenience themselves, stop what they’re doing, get their hands dirty, and become an active participant in the healing of your life (Luke 10:31-32).
Still, there are those who instead of questioning or ignoring your pain, will actually deride you, shame you, and insult you to your face; compounding the fracture and heartbreak (Prov. 15:4). I don’t know which of these experiences hurt the most or if it is even possible to know.
Here’s what is sure: the immeasurable amount of gratitude you feel for the friend who knows how to show up the right way, how to handle not knowing every detail of your struggle, offering their own presence as you face the dark night of the soul, eager to listen to the silence with you. When that person comes to mind, they don’t just enter your mind. They become part of your soul and it is then that your soul fills with the peace that “surpasses understanding” (Phil. 4:7). That person is your friend because they’re acting like Jesus.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
— Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life, 38.