Friends (part two)

Jonathan helped David find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

I love this passage because it tells what friends do. At their own expense they help you find strength in God. They don’t try to give you strength – that would be to put you in their debt. They don’t attempt to be your strength – that would be co-dependent. They help you find God’s strength that you temporarily lost track of. God is your strength – your best friends know this, and they’re glad to remind you of it and help you locate it again.

My friends have consistently modeled themselves after the four friends of the paralyzed man who lowered him through Peter’s roof in order to put him in touch with Jesus. My fellow followers have done the same for me over and over – each taking a corner of my mat, undaunted by inconveniences, going the extra mile, bringing me to God to find strength. I believe that in order to help me any one of my brothers would sacrifice their own roof – for sure someone else’s. My friend Steve’s a roofer and probably would give them a deal on the repair.

Unfortunately, Job, on the other hand, had another ilk of “friends” – also four, who proved to be more harm than good to their suffering brother.  “All my intimate friends detest me,” he said, “those I love have turned against me.” (Job 19:19) They preached college answers, fortune cookie platitudes, and prefab solutions ready for every occasion. His friends were spiritual experts with stock explanations and pat answers to un-pat questions. Good people don’t suffer, only bad ones do. They never even prayed for him or offered him any practical help. I thank God that my friends have been predominantly of the former school of friendship. If my own Eliphaz and his three cohorts lurk, they do so in stealth.

I have more good friends than any man deserves, this man in particular. They all help me find strength when I lose track of it.

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