For several years now two friends and I convene in South Florida for an annual time of sharing, lamenting, thankfulness, praise, challenge, rebuke, encouragement, celebrating, and much needed sleep. Why do we do this? Because we need each other. I think God made us to be in relationships with others. It's a part of what it means to be human. I consider myself blessed to have good friends. As 2011 comes to a close, I am very thankful that God has provided me with amazing friends.
The Bible explains the value of good friendships. When David heard of Jonathan's death he lamented poetically, "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women" (2 Samuel 1:26). Friendships among God's people in the ancient Near East are so foreign to the way Americans live life that most churches would probably throw men out for uttering words like David's.
Since I started publishing articles, op-eds, appearing on national media platforms, and so on, I've come to understand two verses from Proverbs the hard way. First, Proverbs 18:24 reminds us, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Secondly, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17). I have had various seasons of being attacked in painful ways, and it's been revealing to see which of my so-called "friends," who at one time pledged care and commitment, disappeared when the hate mail, phone calls, and vicious slander started to pour in. Needless to say, I learned a tough lesson.
You know who your real friends are when the bottom falls out and disaster visits your life. As the Bible teaches, mere "companions" provide no comfort net when "the going gets tough." Friends, on the other hand, are there to walk with you through the storm. Present, committed, and unmoved. As I get older, I experience in new ways that the book of Proverbs is not only good but also true. Thank God for good friends.