I didn’t sleep last night.
So please take this post simply as a sleepless man’s unreflective thoughts–pardon it’s faults, forget it’s errors, and hopefully it will be of some use. At the least, maybe writing this will help me sleep tonight.
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This week I have been plunged into the mess of the lives of several friends. Last night, I looked into the angry eyes of a dear friend who was willing to do just about anything to push away those who love him most. I looked into the eyes of a close friend, only to find that the friend wasn’t there anymore, but was replaced by someone for whom love is a threat.
I have met several friends in their crises these past few days, and as I’ve tried to be the faithful friend in the midst of the storm, I’ve realized that in these actions I have condemned myself. For the friend who is only there when you’re at the brink, when you’ve hit rock bottom, when you are your own worst enemy isn’t the friend you really want–or the friend you necessarily need.
We always talk about the evils of being a fair-weather friend, only present when things are nice and easy but unwilling to invest the long hours and hard conversations that are part and parcel of the burdens true friendships bear. Yet in these last days, I’ve seen the evils of being a stormy-weather friend as well, unwilling to invest time in my busy schedule to enjoy the sunny days while excusing my distance by my commitment to being there “when it matters most.”
Yet, am I not then the devil dressing the wound I may have helped create? How can I think it’s okay to mourn with those who mourn if I never rejoice when they rejoice? How can I think I’m being a friend when I only give someone food when he’s starving and on the brink of death?
So I don’t call; I don’t write; I don’t follow up because “they’re doing okay,” as if a true friend’s job is to make sure someone’s okay. As if a true friend is like a doctor whose job is to help the patient when he’s sick. But this isn’t true friendship. If I walked with them when they were well, could it be they might never have needed a doctor in the first place?
And so as I try to find peace in the midst of a tumultuous week, I know that I’ve got a lot to learn about what friendship really means. But I am thankful that Jesus has given us a true picture of what it means to be a friend of sinners. For Christ didn’t just come to rescue us from our sin and punishment. He came to be with us in every circumstance, taking joy in our joys and granting solace in our sorrow. He’s with us in the mundane and the monumental, the crisis and the calm.
And even if I can’t sleep tonight, at least I know that He’ll be there for that, too.