The Dancing Puritan

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Someone to Cry With: Thoughts on Friendship

“If you've been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you - you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The descriptions of friendship as having someone to walk, sit and laugh with, (see previous posts), are sweet to the imagination. However, on occasion those times of walking and sitting are not made up of laughter. Instead they are times when we feel the warm water of tears.

Where do you go when you cry?  We should always go to Jesus.  He is the sympathetic high priest (Hebrews 4:15).  We go to Jesus and cast our cares on him (I Peter 5:7).  No one loves us like Jesus.  No one understands our trials, temptations and troubles as he does.  As the hymn writer put it:

There’s not an hour that He is not near us,
  No, not one! no, not one!
No night so dark, but His love can cheer us,
  No, not one! no, not one!
Johnson Oatman (1895)

Jesus is strong enough to take our trials and is willing to comfort us through those trials.  If you are a Christian then nothing can remove you from the love and comfort of God (Romans 8:38-39). As a Christian you know Jesus as ...a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Unlike other friends, and even the closest of family members, Jesus is a friend who will never abandon us.  He will never leave us in a lurch and he will never leave us via death.  We can always rest in and on him.

One of the great gifts that God gives to us in our trials is friendships.  We, who are friends with God by grace, are given a community of friends that we might share life together (the church). We call such sharing, fellowship.  

True friendship is having someone to cry with.  In Galatians 6:2 we are commanded to bear one another's burdens..."  We are to, Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). If you have ever lost a child in miscarriage, experienced the death of a spouse, lost your job or came face to face with a spouse who was unfaithful (and a million more examples), then you know something of what it is to weep.  Weeping is attached to loss.  The loss of something or someone we treasure stirs up the pools of tears and drops them from the clouds of our eyes.

Certainly God is sufficient for our griefs. And certainly there could be occasions when a person is all alone on a deserted island without any true friends in sight. But mostly, one of the chief ways that God dries our tears, is through the hand of a friend. A friend comes to us in the night when it is not convenient.  They stay by our side through the storm.  They embrace us with confidence that we can go on. They say more than, "if you ever need me, give me a call."  The friend makes the call, writes the letter, offers the shoulder, sends the meal over and eats the meal with us.  

All friends fall short. We should not hold any friend up to a standard beyond reason.  We should know ourselves enough to understand that we fall short in extending the hand of friendship.  And so, when a friend fails to come through in the hour of need, it is not necessarily that they are no friend.  It is that they, like us, are feeble and frail. They, like us, depend on God's grace in the merits of Christ to measure up for them. They, like us, need encouragement, and sometimes they need it at the hour that we hurt most. It is then that our ability to be a friend will be most tested.

Where would we be without friends?  Where would we be without someone to walk with, sit with, laugh with and cry with. We do not have to wonder. God has provided friends. If you have not met them yet, my simple counsel to you is to be a friend by being friendly (Proverbs 18:24).

Friendship is many things. It is certainly having someone to cry with.