When you were in elementary school, or perhaps middle school (also known as junior high), did you make friends with some boy or girl who was a special friend? Someone you went bike riding with on Saturday, or someone who would come and share a meal at your house? Perhaps even a friend who would go on vacations with your family?
I suspect that everyone has had at least one such friend. Now, fast forward decades later … how ever many decades apply to your life … and ask whether you have spoken to that friend recently or whether you have visited with that friend in the past year or two. Unfortunately, for me, there are a number of friends who have not had any communication from me for many years.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
True friends provide wise counsel and their words are for your benefit, even if they seem to hurt when first said. Not so with those who would harm you.
In Psalms, David tells of his close friend and companion who betrayed him when the man sided with Absalom in an attempt to unseat David from the throne:
“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”
Even Jesus had a “friend” who betrayed Him to those who hated Him.
“Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.”
Praise the Lord for the friends you have, especially for the friends who rejoice when you rejoice and who weep when you weep, for the friends who love you even when they know you well, for the friends who stay by your side through thick and thin (that’s an old-time expression, it means all the time!).
I recently had occasion to visit with friends from my ancient past. It was a delightful time and many humorous stories were told, and retold, as we thought back to our youth.
In our day and time, communication is so easy and all encompassing. Technology has made it possible for us to communicate with, and even see in real time, people all around the world while we are sitting in our home or office. We can be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media and can tell people all that is happening to us on a moment by moment basis, something that mankind could not even begin to imagine for millennia past. We have removed the impediment of distance so that communication is possible wherever and whoever you want to speak with.
And yet, in our culture, people would rather communicate via email than have a verbal conversation. In short, we fail spectacularly in our communications face-to-face. We readily tell others what we want them to know, but we don’t necessarily want to hear what they might say in response, so we tell them our side and then turn off the electronic device so that we can move on to other things. All the while, we are satisfied that “I have reached out to them” but, I have not interacted with them!
We read in Exodus 33:11 that Moses was a friend of God’s.
“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.”
People come into our lives at various times, and we become friends and share our family’s stories with each other. This is as it should be, we are social beings and we need interaction with others. And, the reality in our 21st century is that people will move away, with increasing regularity. The family compound is no longer in one place. Most families are split apart geographically as children leave the nest to find their employment elsewhere, as they marry and move to the location where their spouse has work, as the grandparents move to the retirement home in Florida or somewhere warm so their arthritis doesn’t hurt so much; the reasons for moving are as varied as are the families involved, but the fact of the matter is that each move requires making new friends, and it also has the unintended result that the friendships formerly made are torn asunder.
As it does for any personal interaction, it takes work to keep a friendship strong. It takes work to keep a marriage strong. It takes work to keep your Christian life and witness strong.
Cherish your friends. Keep in touch. Speak to them on the phone or in person, don’t just rely on the email that you have programmed in the Hallmark app so it goes out to the list automatically.
Blessed is the one who calls someone else friend. Blessed, indeed, is the one who calls Jesus not only Friend but Savior and Brother.
Thank You, Lord, for giving us the marvelous gift of friendship with others, the gift of joy and laughter, the gift of memories and sweet thoughts about those who have come into our lives. Thank You, Father, for giving us the best friend we could ever imagine, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Brother, our Everlasting Friend.