Devotional: ‘A True Friend’

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“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)

Men like to ‘fix’ things. Though we are probably better at tearing things up than fixing them, there’s something in our nature that makes us want to fix whatever is wrong. But there are some things in life that can’t easily be fixed.

I learned that lesson many years ago the hard way. I was new in the ministry and someone from our church wanted to see me for some counseling. As I began to talk with them, I soon realized that they had suffered some terrible tragedies as a child. Naturally, I wanted to fix their problem. But I couldn’t and they quickly let me know that. I’ll never forget them looking me square in the eye and with anger telling me that this problem was a problem that couldn’t be fixed. At first I didn’t understand and thought that they were just being resistant to the truth. Later I learned that they were right; there are some things in life that men can’t fix.

Perhaps the worst case of someone foolishly trying to fix something involves Job and his three friends. The Bible says that when Job’s calamity first happened, his friends came to sit with him and were silent for seven days. (Job 2:13) If you’ve ever read the rest of the book of Job, you probably know that this was the best thing they ever did. As long as they were silent, their presence gave him some comfort. But as soon as they opened their mouths and tried to fix Job’s problems, they caused him more suffering.

It seems to me that the encouragement to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep’ is telling us at least two very important things about friendships:

First of all, we need to let others take the lead when it comes to the problems in their life. Rather than rushing in and trying to quickly solve their situation, we need to be there as a friend to help shoulder the load. The Bible says – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Secondly, we need to pray and give support as the Lord works in their life. Sometimes it is not God’s will to immediately solve someone’s problems. Sometimes the Lord has a very special purpose for our problems. Job’s friends thought that Job was suffering because of his sin; yet we know that he was suffering because of a debate between God and Satan. God was not only aware of Job’s suffering, He had allowed it to happen, and it was through this suffering that God wanted to prove that Job was a righteous man. Therefore, Job did not need his friends’ counsel; he needed their prayer support.

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