I usually open a blog post with, “Hello Friends!” I guess I assume people are reading because they have some level of relationship with me – even if it is just a connection regarding the topic we are addressing. But true “friendship” means so much more than a passing connection through the internet as I’m sure you would agree.
We have just concluded reading through the Book of Job in our reading through the Bible 2017 study. Always a challenging read to be sure! I appreciate the help of my favorite commentary when studying Job – Pastor Jack Hayford in the Sprit Filled Life Bible study is VERY helpful.
Job is a very unique book – an ancient writing, author and date uncertain. What is certain is that Job was a real man who lived the experiences recorded in the Book of Job because he is referred to in several other scriptures including Ez. 14:14 and James 5:11.
The greatest lesson to be learned from Job is that the Godly will suffer. Does that conflict with what you have been taught about God? To be sure, God “allowed” Satan to bring seemingly unbearable affliction upon Job – loss of his prized possessions, loss of his beloved children, and finally, the loss of his health. Could life get any worse for Job?
Yes, and it did. His “friends” came to comfort Job. The Bible tells us they were so shocked at Job’s condition they couldn’t speak for seven days. That was a good thing for someone to do for a suffering friend. (Don’t preach at them, just be there!)
When they started preaching at Job, however, giving him each their version of what was wrong with him and how he MUST have sinned for his life to get so bad, Job’s problems went from feeling pretty doggone bad down there in the dust to complete despair. That’s how it feels when friends misunderstand you, criticize you, and turn your confidence and trust in them against you. Have you been there?
I recently read a blog by a pastor who was explaining how difficult it can be to maintain friendships in ministry. He was talking about something that every pastor and pastor’s wife can relate to because it happens to all of us. You can have years and years and dozens of wonderful as well as trying experiences with “friends,” and continue to be friends – UNTIL – until a situation arises that someone in the relationship thinks is a “deal breaker.” Those times do happen in our lives over issues that cannot be resolved but most of the time I have seen the “break up” comes as a result of a lack of commitment to working through difficulties by honest communication followed by mutual understanding. Whatever the noble cause, bottom line – it hurts.
We are so good at focusing on the “flaws,” or even worse yet, believing a “bad report” that we fail to investigate fairly or – imagine this – overlook because we know our friend so well and have made a commitment to “think the best” even when we might be seeing the worst. I’ve done it and I realize it is the plan of the enemy to separate friends. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but so many times – we do! (Ephesians 6:12)
Job’s friends drove him further into the dust and despair through their lack of compassion and understanding. If we have ever experienced abandonment of friends, we must remember Job – he was deserted. He had to stand alone. But Job erred in that he failed to recognize the sovereignty of God goes way beyond our circumstances. If we are being tried by fire, it can only be for our good. God had a whole new level of relationship with Job waiting on the other side of that time of testing!
There will be times we will be misunderstood, even perhaps accused and misjudged by those who we thought we could always depend on.
Our faith, as was Job’s, will be tried and tested. Friends may disappoint. Remember that ALL of Jesus’ closest friends deserted Him the night He was arrested. It’s interesting what Hebrews 5:8 says of Jesus, “Even though Jesus was God’s son, He learned obedience through the things He suffered.”
In this life we are all on the Potter’s wheel being molded and shaped into the image of Christ for as long as we live. (Jeremiah 18) And ultimately we are learning there is only One who will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
As Job laid in the dust of his suffering and feelings of abandonment, there came a “suddenly” experience. God steps onto the scene and everything changes! Our hero, Job, especially experienced God working in a way he never could have seen coming.
With the presence of God Almighty on the scene, restoration happened PDQ. Job’s friends brought the offering required by God for their restoration, Job repented of his wrong attitude towards God, prayed for his friends, received healing and complete restoration that went double over and beyond what he had possessed before including ten wonderful children. AND he lived another 140 years to enjoy his prosperity!
What does God expect from me in relationship to my friends? Proverbs 17:17 makes it pretty clear, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Oh, if that could only work all the time – especially when a friendship is tried by fire. Will we remember our commitment to love at ALL TIMES?
In our lifetimes, we will in some way be connected to hundreds if not thousands of different people. If you are blessed with friends, hold them close and do not let them go. Think the best even if you see the worst.
Don’t believe an evil report about a friend! Investigate if you must – to their face. (Matthew 18) Confront, when confrontation is necessary. After all, any friendship worth its weight must include accountability. But it must also include commitment.
What if your faithful friendship is what sustains a brother or sister in Christ to overcome adversity so great they might think they can’t make it. Remember our friendships mean the most, not in the good times, but in the most difficult times.
We can learn so many wonderful lessons from the Book of Job. In 2017, I am learning being tried by fire may mean losing some friends. It will be ok. What has been lost, God will cause to be restored double – IF I turn my heart to trust Him above all. He is THE FRIEND that sticks closer than a brother.
Thanks so much for reading!
paths to connect in Him. – without which no relationship can survive.