I am that person who struggles to fit in. This was especially true during my high school and college years. Our family moved when I was 14 and from the time we left the little town of my childhood, I never truly belonged to a certain crowd.
I was involved with music and played sports but, other than practice times, I didn’t spend an awful lot of time socializing. I wasn’t a partier. I never enjoyed sleepovers.
As a pastor’s kid, church was the center for most of my personal interactions and, on the rare occasion I actually had free time, I was perfectly content to be home with my family. I am a homebody by nature. An introvert in many ways. It’s hard for me to connect, truly connect, with other people. I’m afraid that if I let others get too close they won’t like the real me. I worry about their rejection.
When I think of friendship in the Bible my mind goes right to Exodus 17. This is the chapter where Moses and the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites. Joshua was in charge of leading the men into battle while Moses watched from a distance. When Moses kept his hands raised in the air, Joshua and the Israelites triumphed in battle. When he lowered his arms, Amalek prevailed.
I’ve never met anyone who can indefinitely keep their hands raised above their heads. It’s exhausting and painful. As Moses began to weaken, and as the Israelites were facing defeat, Aaron and Hur come to the rescue – each taking one of Moses’ arms and holding them steady until the people of Israel won the battle.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says: 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Aaron and Hur were Moses’ Ecclesiastes 4 friends. They sacrificed their time. They offered their encouragement. They gave Moses their own strength when he himself had nothing left to give. These are the kind of friends I want to have. Friends who stand in the gap when life is overwhelming. Friends who pray fiercely. Friends who don’t allow self pity to take root. Friends who meet needs in tangible ways. Friends who lend their strength when the battle is raging.
I may have insecurities when it comes to building relationships, but God has still blessed me in spite of them. He has surrounded my family with some special people, and it is in these friends that I see Jesus in action
- They are valuable. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
- They are encouraging. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
- They are loving and accepting. (Ecclesiastes 4:11)
- They are loyal. (Ecclesiastes 4:12a)
- They are godly. (Ecclesiastes 4:12b)
I know that friendships like this are rare, which is why I don’t take mine for granted. There is a tribe of people who constantly surround my family when we find ourselves in the thick of both heartbreak and joy. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, these friends carried us. When we adopted Aidan, these friends filled the courtroom with their cheers and applause. When we tragically lost my father-in-law, this community of people held our arms high and continue to see us safely to the other side.
They are the friends who text all day about hilarious things, who show up at our doorstep with food, who babysit our children, who cry with us when our world is crumbling, who laugh with us when we say ridiculous things, and who love us despite the times we’ve hurt them. They are the embodiment of Ecclesiastes 4… and they are God’s gift to me.