A famous bear once said, “A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you.” (Winnie the Pooh)
That bear is most certainly right.
But if you’re like any of the many women I’ve been talking to in recent weeks, you may be struggling to find a true friend.
Ministry is often lonely.
Scripture is full of admonition and examples of friendships. We are told to “bear one another’s burdens” and that “iron sharpens iron.” Once you arrive in a ministry role, however, it doesn’t take long to feel that those Scriptures might just be a poking that iron in our side, a pointed reminder of the lack of friendship we actually have as ministry wives and leaders.
There are several solutions to this hurtful issue, but today I wanted to invite you to consider looking first at friendship through the lens of Jesus’ experience.
Jesus understands the need for friendship.
He had three disciples we know were his closest friends and with whom he purposefully sought a deeper relationship. He had gone through many experiences with these guys–storms, fishing trips, caring for others, healing people. These were ministry experiences that were sure to have bound them together in closer friendship. (Imagine their after-the-event conversations: “Hey Jesus, remember that kid’s face when you kept making more food out of his three loaves and two fish?! I bet that’s something he’ll never forget!”)
Then I think of the time he was in the garden shortly before his death and took his three closest friends with him. Surely he chose them thinking, “These are my truest, truest friends. If this is the end for me, I want these guys with me.”
While he didn’t ask them to pray with him (Can you imagine the deep anguish taking place in Jesus’ heart at that moment?), he did ask them to pray. And when he returned, probably after not too much time later, they were sleeping.
Oh, disappointing disciples! Can you imagine?! To find his closest friends asleep in that moment must have been utter heartbreak. He knew how feeble humans could be, but surely there was hurt in his human heart.
If there’s One who knows our hurt in friendship, it’s Jesus.
His friends fell asleep on him at his darkest hour. His friends denied even knowing him and having had anything to do with him while he walked on the earth. His friends fled from his presence when the enemies arrived, afraid for their own lives.
Even Jesus’ closest friends failed Him miserably. So Jesus knows.
If you’re struggling with feeling alone today, can you place that in Jesus’s well-acquainted hands? If you’re experiencing a challenge with a friendship and unsure of how to move forward, how to speak to them, or how to confront the situation, are you able to offer it back up to Christ and ask for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom?
Dear Lord, help us place our need for friendship in your capable hands. Comfort us where we need comforting, fill us where we need filled. Thank you for calling us your friends and for wanting to commune with us. May we learn to wait on you for the answers to our friendship needs. Help us be a friend to the friendless.