(Devotion for Thursday 31 March 2011 sent early)
Two days ago I was alone in an Asian restaurant for lunch and in my fortune cookie was the following "Soon someone new coming into your life will be a best friend." Wow. Well I do not believe fortunes but this made me think of the value of friendship. For anyone who has ever been hurt by a friend you know how important friends are. Friendship is one of God's biggest blessings! The person who has a close trusted friend is very blessed indeed.
I have been blessed to move about 12 times in my 33 years of married life thanks to the US Army. It has been a joy because my friends across the US in my military family and some civilians in towns we lived in without a base or post were like my regular family. We had holiday meals with them just as you would your relatives. Military folks develop a special sort of camaraderie with the friends they make. In 28 years of military service we never got assigned overseas but I understand the US Forces overseas even have a closer bond. I have a picture up on my wall at home in the hallway that says "Home is anywhere the Army sends us." How true!
The saying goes, 'If you want to be a friend you have to show yourself friendly.' Do not be friends with someone only if they can help you get ahead. But be a true friend that is there through thick or thin, in good times and no so good. If you have been hurt or betrayed the Bible says in Luke 6:28 to "Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." It is hard to not like someone when you pray for them. Even if they do not like you or want to hang out with you nothing says you can not still pray. God does not want us to harbor resentment and grudges. Even if the other person is ugly to you keep on praying. Do not stoop to their level. Be Christlike and ask God for the ability to love them with God's love.
I always say to try to be nice when someone is being mean. An appropriate Bible verse for that would be Romans 12:21 which says "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
You may be in a strained relationship with a friend now over something you said or did. Proverbs 15:1 says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Sometimes you may try and try and try to make someone like you and it just isn't happening. You give it to the Lord and trust him to work it out. You blew it maybe and want this person to like you or maybe you did nothing and they just do not want to be your friend anymore. It hurts. Begging someone to like you will not work and may work the opposite effect.
An offended friend is hard to win back. Proverbs 18:19 says "An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars." So you say why wouldn't a believer just forgive someone and move on? I do not have the answer to that. But through struggles of all sorts in this life down here we learn to face up to things and grow as a result. We learn from experiences good or bad.
The good news here is that God loves you and he is your ultimate friend. He does not want you having pity parties but he wants you to think about all the wonderful things you have in your life and the friends you do have who do love and appreciate you. We can not make everyone like us. Getting angry does no good either.
God is your best friend. Run to him and let him comfort you. The enemy will want you to have self pity and anger towards the person who hurt you but Gods' word says to pray for those who have hurt you. That is certainly not the worlds' way. The world would say, 'just call them up and tell them off '. That would not be a good idea nor a Christian thing to do.
Be thankful for the friends you do have who love you and thank the Lord too for the problems you have in your life with former friends who no longer want to hang around with you because it is through the bad and the good that we learn and grow closer to the Lord.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus I thank you so much for my friends. I thank you when friends want to do things and when they send notes of encouragement. Help me always try to be the best kind of friend to those you have placed in my life. If I have unknowingly ever hurt anyone I ask you Lord to forgive me and heal that broken relationship now in Jesus name. Amen.