“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17 NASB)
Our praying community recently engaged in a discussion that went beyond understanding diversity and began to unwrap what it means to be a friend, as well as a sister or brother in Christ. It reminded me of my high school years in the late ‘70s in Florence, Mississippi, where I played football with a great and very diverse group of young men. One of my football friends, a young black man named Stanley Spells, caught me one time and said, “Mark, you just don’t understand. You don’t know what it is like.” You see, I had no problem with racism in Mississippi, because I was naive and lacked understanding. I claimed to be a friend and yet did not understand Stanley’s walk down a dirt road to a difficult home. I certainly had no claim to being even a football brother, because I did not walk side-by-side into difficulty with Stanley, Booker or any of my other football friends of color. Being naive stopped being acceptable — at least not for one who claimed to follow Jesus and be His friend. (John 15:14)
King David had friends; however, when trials came, he found them to be aloof and no friends at all. (Psalm 38:11) As ones who would be friends of God, we have an obligation (a command really) to one another to take a step closer to each other, understand each other enough to love as a friend, and be bold enough to stand with a brother or sister in adversity.
And how about those of us who find ourselves betrayed by a friend? Well, if we are fortunate, we will find a little bit of the character of Job in us. Job was obedient to God and prayed for his friends that they would be saved from God’s wrath and restored. The One who is responsible for justice stayed His hand because of the prayers of a wounded friend. Oh, and by the way, Job got a pretty nice blessing in the end. (Job 42:10)
Let us become worthy friends and seek out those brothers and sisters we so need! Our lives will be so much richer and full of blessing as a result.