Posted: August 28, 2012 in Daily Living

When you think of your friends, who are they? What kind of a friend are you? What might you learn about true friendship during times of difficulty, conflict, or suffering?

Adversity often reveals who our true friends are while at the same time blessing us with new ones. When I reflect on the seasons of difficulty in my life and take inventory I realize that not all those we believed were friends really were. Yet those who stuck with us proved to be true, while other, new friends came along side us in Christ’s love.

Think back over the last year of your life, especially if it held a season of adversity. Perhaps you lost a job, suffered the death of a child, the battering of a severe disease, encountered financial stress, bankruptcy, marital discord, or personal disaster. What did the experience teach you about your friends?

Perhaps more importantly, how can we be true friends, especially during times of difficulty in someone’s life? We learn several key principles about friendship from Job’s three friends:

Job 2:11-13 11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. 13 Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

Principle #1: Pay the Price

True comfort often costs the comforter.

Job’s friends came from different locations. Their travel cost them in time and resources, as they came from great distances to be with their friend. They were intentional about caring and coming alongside. Together they made an appointment to join Job in his pain, to sympathize with him, and to comfort him.

What a difference a note, call, text, email or a visit can make. Yes, it may cost you some time, but that is what friends do. True friends intentionally pay the price to care for a friend in pain.

Principle #2: Get Up Close

Getting close to pain is not easy. Pain is not pretty. Often it makes us uncomfortable. Despite this, Job’s friends sat on the ground with him for seven days. No one said a word.  Why? Because they saw his pain and it was very, very great. Job’s friends got close enough to see his pain and hurt with him. They were wise enough to simply be there and sensitive enough to say nothing. Only later, when they tried to “fix” him did they bring hurt rather than help.

Principle #3: Stay the Course.

Rereading past journal entries reveals pages punctuated with letters from friends new and old who chose to pay the price, and draw near so they could see our pain. These made a great difference by sharing of themselves…often at cost to themselves. Those who didn’t call or contact us, who never wrote or dropped by, have faded from our radar. But those who paid the price brought Christ’s love to us and changed our lives forever and for the better.

His love always does.

photo credit: supersum (off) via photo pin cc

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