(Note: Thanks to my wife, Linda, for her help in writing this one. Two are better than one!)
There is a song written by Carole King in 1971 that talks about the need for friends. The song is You’ve Got a Friend, and it is the sentiment of one person assuring another of their friendship. In times of trouble, or when we are feeling down, what we often need is someone to come alongside us, to encourage us, to lend us a helping hand (or shoulder!). When we are down and discouraged, we can trust that God will give us the comfort and encouragement that we need, and sometimes He does that through other people, through friends.
The Bible gives many examples of the value of and need for friends in our lives. The value of friends is shown in the stories of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3) and Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17). In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of coming into Macedonia and feeling exhaustion due to no physical rest, and affliction that came from “fighting without” (struggles with both friends and foes) and “fear within” (anxiety) (2 Corinthians 7:5). Paul was downcast and needed comfort. Paul also tells us that God provided that comfort for him. How? Through a friend named Titus (2 Corinthians 7:6).
The importance of friends is very clear throughout Scripture. Proverbs 18:24 tells us that “a man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” In Ecclesiastes, we read that two are better than one. If one of the two falls, his friend is there to pick him up. And when an enemy comes against one person, if a friend is there by his side, that person will prevail. And, of course, when two stand together against the enemy and, because of their faith, God is in the mix, the friendship creates a threefold cord that cannot easily be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Friends are clearly important. As believers, we need to cultivate friendships with others, especially with other believers, who understand and can remind us of the hope that only Christ can give in a seemingly hopeless situation, of the fact that He can strengthen us to do all things (Philippians 4:13), and that He can do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). This is true for all of us, but especially for those who serve in ministry in a leadership role. Leaders can experience times of discouragement and depression, just as Paul did. And it’s in those times that God will use a friend to bring the comfort that is needed.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.