"The Christian life is a pilgrimage. At times the road is difficult ad we get lonely. Sometimes we may get discouraged and consider abandoning the journey. It is at such times that God will place a friend alongside us. One of God's most precious gifts to us is friends who encourage us and lovingly challenge us to 'keep going.' "
~ By Henry T. Blackaby & Richard Bkackaby ~
from their devotional book, Experiencing God
One of the most severe epidemics of our time is loneliness. Though most of us are surrounded by people, we live in a society of loneliness. Everyone, from small children to aging seniors experience feelings of isolation, rejection and seclusion. We often think of single people who live alone as being lonely, but some of the loneliest people I have encountered have been married with a house full of children.
In one of the Barna Reports by Christian pollster George Barna, it states that one of the leading trends in our society post 2000 is a movement away from meaningful friendships. We are becoming more and more like a closed society. People are often spending their days moving through a crowd of strangers and coming home to an isolated or artificial existence.
We all need friends, but few understand the basics about forming quality friendships. A true friend is someone whom we enjoy mutual affection, interests and respect for. The best friends are those who are helpers in times of trouble. Those who are our advocates when we find ourselves in need are the kind of friends that are worth their weight in gold. Solomon once wrote, "A brother is born for times of adversity, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother - that is God our closest companion."
The word "friend" is so misused in our society today that it has lost its true definition. A true friend loves even when it's absolutely uncomfortable. A friend is a friend even when it hurts. A friend never leaves you flat when everyone else has. When adversity strikes, a true friend is there with you. A friend loves you when you are grumpy and when you have gained a little weight and turned slightly gray. A true friend will pray for you and respect your privacy when you are going through a trial but not able to openly discuss the details.
Friendships are very important. There are times when we need that network of people who can pray with us and encourage us. But one thing I have discovered over the years is so true. To have friends I must also be a friend. If we expect love, trust, honesty and encouragement we must also offer the same to those who we consider our friends. Cultivating friendships requires investment of our time. It requires patience and sincere interest in other's lives.
God is our friend and encourager. There are times, as a pastor's wife, that I may not have the freedom to unload the particulars of my trials on my friends. I can call out to God at that moment and He will give me comfort and peace in the midst of the stormy seas. He always understands what we are going through. We are never alone when we have a relationship with Christ.