"…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
2 Kings 20:5 “... I
have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears.”
Any discussion of friends has to start
with this basic truth about a friend or even several friends: they
cannot always be there for us. That fact doesn’t make them bad
friends; it only makes them human. Our pain, our grief, our losses
can’t be at the top of our friends’ priority list because they have
their own problems…just like all of us.
No matter how much they (or we) wish
they could “suit up and show up” all the time or at exactly the
right time, it isn’t always possible. There is only one friend, who
can be there all the time, can care all the time, can take the time
to listen any time, and can help us carry our burdens anytime. That
friend is Jesus…the friend who really does “stick closer than a
When I was growing up, it was my
younger sister rather than a brother who followed me everywhere, but
the point remains the same. Dianne wanted to go everywhere I went
and do everything I did. When I cut my hair a certain way, she had
to have hers cut the same way. I was a tomboy and very athletic, but
she was not. Nevertheless, she wanted to climb trees because I did.
Some days I couldn’t take a step
forward or backward without tripping over her. The one and only time
she skipped school was in early elementary. Why? She wanted to go to
school with me instead. And she did! I couldn’t get away from her no
matter how hard I tried! What drove me absolutely crazy back then is
something I long for today.
That’s how close God is to us. If we
are asleep, He’s there. When we are awake, He’s there. When we are
rejoicing, He rejoices with us. When our hearts are broken, and
there seems to be no end to our tears…Oh, He’s there! He sees every
tear, and He records them “in His book” (Psalm
God heard the prayer of Hezekiah and
saw his tears, and we can be confident He hears our prayers and sees
our tears as well. And He understands us as no one else can.
Psalm 33:15 reminds us He fashioned our hearts, and He
understands everything we do, even when we don’t understand it
I know all that, of course, and so do
you. I even know people can’t be those things to me or meet those
needs. At least I know it most of the time. However, I still
sometimes begin to have expectations about people in general and
friends in particular. When I do, I’m bound to run into trouble.
When I find myself thinking my friends
aren’t loyal or compassionate or assuming they don’t care, I have to
ask myself whether I’m being reasonable. If they aren’t as consumed
by my pain as I am, do I conclude they aren’t concerned about me or
my problems? If I do, I’m being unfair because the crisis I’m facing
may dominate my life, but my friends have their own lives…and their
own crises or problems as well.
To expect the kind of support from
another person that only God can give is to set ourselves up for
disappointment. Next thing we know, we’re burning bridges, which
don’t need to be burned. We would do better to realize our friends
are probably doing the best they can do with what they have and to
remind ourselves only God can be God.
Challenge for Today: What might
happen if we, just for today, stopped expecting complete
understanding and compassion from our friends and instead took our
burdens to the One who can carry them for us?