Why Friendship Matters

March 27, 2023

A childhood friend of mine, Jewel, had a genetic heart defect that caused her to become tired and winded easily. One beautiful fall day when I was young, a few friends from church decided to explore a stream at the bottom of a long, gradual hill across from my house. After our adventure, we began the ascent back to the house. Fairly quickly, Jewel struggled to keep up with us and increasingly lagged behind. Like a slow motion movie scene in my head, I can still picture Jewel slowly struggling up the hill alone because none of us made the effort to walk with her. How I wish I had been a thoughtful friend! Even today, this life lesson continues to instruct me on why friendship matters.  

Friendship is a gift from God which he initiated to show his love. Had I been faithful enough to walk beside Jewel, I would have demonstrated Christ’s love to her. Jesus promises to be a friend who sticks closer than a brother. He also promises to never leave or forsake us.  Amazingly, he crafted friendships, in part to reflect his care for us. God uses imperfect people to express care to others during life’s highs and lows. How much more enjoyable the journey would have been for both of us if I had walked together with my struggling friend! Thankfully, we can rely on Jesus to be our life companion and perfectly faithful friend.

Through God’s kindness, friendship helps lighten the load. Jesus offers to carry our heavy cares in exchange for his peace. Although I could not change Jewel’s circumstance, I could have cheered her on and put my arm around her as she stopped to catch her breath. Walking together makes the journey less wearisome and much more pleasurable as we trust God to lead us through. Let me encourage you to resist the temptation to hold back from sharing friendship because of fears or some unattainable picture of the perfect friend. Lay down unrealistic expectations and joyfully join someone along the way.

Friendship turns our eyes from ourselves and honors God in doing so. When I returned home from my childhood adventure with my other friends, my mom realized that Jewel was left behind. She encouraged me to be a friend to Jewel and finish the walk with her. If I may, let me be that same voice of encouragement to you. 

Who in your life is struggling? Is there a friend walking alone? Which of your connections is tired and weary? Go walk with them! It is easy to be caught up with our own issues right in front of us. Take a moment to look beyond your immediate circumstances and take action as a faithful friend to someone who needs care. Practice befriending others the way you want to be befriended. Our ultimate example is Christ and his precious sacrifice when he laid down his life for his friends.  

A few short months after I watched Jewel walk up that hill alone, she had heart surgery to repair the heart defect, but passed away in recovery at just thirteen years old. Jewel is enjoying perfection now, no more heart defects, tiring walks, or thoughtless friends. When in heaven, I hope to take a very long walk with Jewel and thank her for the valuable lesson she taught me about friendship. I would love it very much if our perfect friend Jesus joins us, too. After all, friendship is of him, through him, and to him!

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