I’ll be the first to say that if there was ever an award for “Worst Friend”, I would win first place. There have been times when I was so caught up with my work, I forgot my friends even existed. If I was not busy replying to work-related text messages, then I was constantly checking my email. I was so wrapped up with work that I neglected my friends—the very ones who would be with me when the chips were down.
The irony is, I know what it is like to grow up without any friends: I spent a few painful years not quite fitting into any of the social circles in high school. When I moved overseas, I was thrown into an entirely new culture, and spent many lonely morning tea breaks and lunches in a corner, trying to finish my meals as quickly as possible before heading to the library to be in the company of books.
Thankfully, I made new friends as the years passed. We have remained friends, attending one another’s graduations and spending many memorable summers on road trips together. Each of my friends is unfailingly loyal, kind, generous—and will help me make lemonades when life throws me lemons.
How about you? What sort of friend are you? Are you a Facebook-only friend, the kind who shares in someone’s joy by “liking” their posts and status updates, but have never actually met them in person? Are you someone who is so busy with your own life that you barely have the time to text a few words to an old friend whom you have not talked to in more than a month? Or are you the type to take at least three days to reply to a friend’s message, only to give your standard reply along the lines of, “Hey, sorry, I’ve been swamped. My folks were in town, and it was one deadline after another at work.”
In this fast-paced society, many of us tend to make less effort in keeping up with our friends and getting to know someone on a personal level. Instead, we spend more time checking our Facebook newsfeeds or refreshing our Instagram accounts to see who is dining at the latest, hippest restaurant, or doling out judgements on people’s clothes, choice of makeup, or music tastes. Soon, we forget that our friends are not just another status or photo on Facebook and Instagram: behind these photos lie real people who may be wishing for a friendly phone call, a note to ask about their day, or an invitation to lunch.
We are designed for friendship; the Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
This reminds me about the one Person who sticks closer to us than a brother—Jesus Himself. While our earthly friendships may fail, friendship with Jesus comes with many life-giving benefits. We can count on Him to be our counsellor, comforter, provider, and healer, and He has promised to be with us 24/7. “He goes with you and He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Friendship with Jesus means we are able to cast our problems on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). And if an earthly relationship has left us brokenhearted, we rest in the knowledge that He will heal our hearts, bind our wounds (Psalm 147:3), and bottle up all our tears (Psalm 56:8).
And just as a group of good friends can come together to share their hopes and dreams, so a friendship with Jesus means we are able to bring our dreams to Him, and know that He will give the desires of our heart if we delight in Him (Psalms 37:4).
While there is no guarantee that being friends with Jesus would spell days of endless sunshine and rainbows, you can rest in the assurance that He will weather the storms of life with you when you feel like the world is collapsing around your ears. American writer and speaker Gregg Levoy once said, “Jesus promised those who would follow him only three things, that they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble”.
So remember, the next time if you find yourself feeling lonely or burdened with problems, call out to Jesus—you will find in Him a friend for every season.