We’ve been talking about making friends and what friendship means, and today I wanna finish this series by talking about the hardships of friendship.
We know there are different levels of friendships, and the deeper the friendship, the harder it can get. As humans, our friendships with other people are so so important. And as Christians, even more so as we encourage each other into deeper relationships with the Lord. And that’s where the enemy has his fun, in our relationships, particularly the healthy ones. The enemy hates anything healthy!
So the reality is, our closest friendships are gonna be messy! They aren’t always going to be a field day or a walk in the park, and sometimes the people closest to you can hurt you the most. That’s the power you give people when you let them in. But we are called to give grace, seek reconciliation, and wade through the hard stuff together. Now, there will be times when friendships end because of hurt. I’ve experienced this, Amy has, and I’m sure you have also! And there are times when it is necessary or healthy to end an unhealthy friendship. But I want to speak from a place of victory when I say that we should do our very best, with God’s strength in us, to reconcile broken relationships in our lives. It can be so hard, and sometimes doesn’t feel worth it, but I have been through some very hard seasons with my closest friends and can say it most definitely was worth it. Amy and I wouldn’t be here now writing this blog if it weren’t for perseverance through valleys together.
I can’t speak for everyone’s situation, and certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do know that turning to the Lord and His word can help us through so much. So here are 9 verses that have helped encourage me when going through friendship hardships with my close friends:
1. “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. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
These verses are actually the theme verses for our blog! And the reason we chose this passage is because of how it paints a picture of the importance of relationships; friends, family, and spouses alike. When there are two people, they can help each other up, keep each other warm, defend themselves against more, and two people with Jesus between them can not be quickly broken. If we looked at our friendships in this way, really as a team that is stronger together, we could choose to push through the hard stuff together instead of separating and fighting against each other.
2. Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”.
Amy has mentioned this verse in this series before, and I think it’s an important piece when looking at friendship. We are called into relationships with people, as Christ has called us into relationship with Him, and there’s purpose in that. Part of God’s process of pruning us and sharpening us is putting people in our lives that we trust that will be honest with us when we need it most. It can be hard to not get offended when we are criticized, but when it comes from a close friend, we can be assured that it is truly meant to sharpen us.
3. 1 Peter 4:8-10 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
I love this; “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”. How beautiful is it that when we love each other deeply, that love covers our sins? That’s the dynamic we are called to in relationships. When we are hurt by those we love, we love them through it and that covers over that sin.
4. Proverbs 27:5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
This one can be hard to swallow at first, as if it’s saying it’s okay for friends to hurt us. But I think it’s really saying that loving correction is evidence of a true friend. It isn’t easy when a friend tells us something we are doing that we don’t see, it can be painful to hear. But as we heed their advice and ask the Lord to change us, we see how important those people are in our lives.
5. Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another”.
It’s important for us to find ways to encourage each other, push each other to love and do good deeds. And to not give up! When life gets hard, it can be easy to want to stop meeting with other Christians, at church or in your personal life. And that’s when we have to choose to not give up, especially in our friendships.
6. Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all time, and a brother [or sister] is born for a time of adversity.” (Emphasis mine)
This verse is pretty self explanatory and can be hard to accept. A friend loves at ALL times, not just when it’s easy and not just when they’re receiving that love back. And a sister (in Christ) is given to us for the times of adversity. When the times of adversity are within our friendships, we can look at this and choose to love at all times and pursue the friendship through the mess.
7. Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Well that covers that, doesn’t it? What a calling! Do nothing for ourselves out of selfishness, but value others above ourselves. When this is walked out sincerely, it’s amazing what God can do. And when we feel like we can’t do it, God can change our hearts and work through us to allow us to emulate Him in this way!
8. Colossians 3:12-14 ““Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to imagine doing all of these things we are called to and we surely can’t do them on our own. But with Jesus’ help, we can walk like Him and allow Him to change lives through us. Let’s be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient with each other. Let’s bear with each other and forgive each other, even when things are hard. And when we can’t, let’s ask God to change our hearts so we can.
9. John 15:12-15 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
To love each other as Jesus has loved us, that’s huge! And super intimidating. But when we give up our lives for our friends, and treat them like Jesus would, we are shining Jesus in their lives.
It can be so so hard to want to love on, be patient with, and fight for our friendships when our friends aren’t reciprocating that. But as we press into Jesus and ask Him for strength, we allow Him to change lives through us and create a testimony of His love through our perseverance.