The Ultimate Friend
This past week, I was blessed to hear Gary Thomas, author of “Sacred Marriage,” speak at a FamilyLife staff conference. One of the things he said really stood out to me: “Most of our frustration with God is that He’s not making life as easy as we think it should be.” I had to give that a big “amen.”
Do you ever think: “God, I’m trying to serve you, and I attend church every week (well, almost every week). I’m trying to raise my kids to love you. I read my Bible at least three times a week. Couldn’t you help me out here?”
I’ve thought this as John and I have dealt with so many things during our move to Arkansas. There are things I expected to struggle with, like the pain of leaving our two oldest kids, our extended family, our church, and our friends. I expected dealing with the cultural differences and even the struggles of moving, packing, and unpacking.
What I didn’t expect were other things, like our house not selling. Like seeing our savings deplete as we paid dual payments. Like trying to adjust to living on a smaller budget.
Sometimes I’ve wanted to say, “God, can you just give me/us a little break here?” Okay, to tell the truth, I’ve said it and prayed it often.
The fact is, there are always going to be difficult times. Life is hard. Challenges come. We will never “arrive” at being settled, comfortable, and completely happy.
And actually, that’s a good thing. When we are unsettled, uncomfortable, and, yes, even unhappy, it’s then we discover we need Jesus even more than we thought.
Another thing Gary Thomas said ties into this. “God knows it’s not easy being us. He knows we live with sin, with loneliness, with injury and sickness, and with the sin of others.”
As moms, God knows we struggle with a dirty house, with a to-do list, with kids who don’t listen and obey, and with a wonderful husband who we discovered (to our disappointment) is not perfect. Sometimes we may think, Really, Jesus? You can’t do one favor for us when we really need it?
There are a few other ladies in the Bible who thought the same thing. There was a time when Mary and Martha really needed Jesus. Their brother was dying, and they wanted Jesus to come. They entertained Jesus in their home. They hung out with Him. They saw Him heal others. Yet when they needed Jesus most, He stayed away. They had to face Lazarus’ death alone.
“Jesus didn’t explain himself or make excuses,” Gary Thomas says. “Jesus wept. That’s what friends do.”
We, too, are Jesus’ friends. John 15:15 reads, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends. …”
When Jesus didn’t show up when Mary and Martha wanted, they discovered Him in a new and different way. When He didn’t show up as Healer, they discovered Him as Raiser-of-the-dead.
“The difficulties will feed the friendship. We’ll learn to discover God in ways we had never experienced before,” Gary Thomas says. “The more we embrace that we have a friend in our difficulties, the more we will feed every relationship we have.”
As Gary spoke, this got me thinking. One thing that helps me is when I have a friend who I can turn to during hard times — someone who understands. I have friends who I used to talk to about my toddlers, and now we discuss our teens. When I first moved to Little Rock, the group of women I connected with first were women from my Unpacking the Boxes Bible Study — women who’d also just moved here. We talked about missing “home” and trying to find “home” again. Even though these women didn’t solve my problems, it helped that they were there, they loved me, and they understood. Even better than those friends, God gets it.
Gary Thomas concluded with this, “We will face times of sin, loneliness, injury and sickness, and the sin of others with or without God. Why not face it with a Friend who is above all friends — who gets us?”
I’m thankful for that. I’m awed I have a Friend who I can turn to … and who I’m turning to more and more through all life’s challenges.
What about you? Are you going through tough stuff? I know you are because everyone is. Don’t you want to go through it with a Friend by your side? It makes all the difference.