The Blessings of Friends

This week, with the end of another school year, I have been thinking a lot about friendships – old ones, new ones, those that are steadfast, tried and true through the trials of life, and those that waiver with the seasons.  And as I opened my devotional this week, the readings have been from Sirach nearly every day.  Now Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) is largely about rules and laws, admonishing and directing, but as I read it I was inspired on the verses about friendship.  I’d love to share them with you!

Sirach 6:5-9; 14-17

A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.

Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.friends

When you gain a friend, first test him and be not too ready to trust him.  For one sort of friend is a friend when it suits him but he will not be with you in time of distress.  Another is a friend who becomes an enemy and tells of the quarrel to your shame.

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.  A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.  A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds;  For he who fears God behaves accordingly and his friend will be like himself.

 

I confess to be a socially awkward person.  I am always uncomfortable putting myself in new social situations where I don’t know people well.  But I trust that God has put me in these difficult settings, not always for my benefit but for others’.  And I have to believe that if God put me there, then the Holy Spirit will give me the right words to say when the situation calls for it, regardless of how self-conscious or ill at ease I may be.

But I am not without gain in these cases too, for it is in these new circumstances, that I have often been richly blessed with new friends.  Walking into a room full of moms who obviously have already formed friendships has been unnerving and can leave you feeling like an outsider, but I can honestly say that on occasion, they have led me to treasured friendships.

Look at your own circle of friends.  I hope that you have those closest confidants, often those from family – for me, it is my husband, my mom and my sister.  These are the safest friendships because you know that they are stuck with you through it all – either through vows or blood.

Then there are those friends, who are not truly family, but it feels like that – you have known and loved them for years.  You can trust and confide in them and they know who you are – who you truly are.

friends3 And there are those beloved friends who you have gotten to know through shared experiences – playgroups, school activities, sporting events, work.  And these are amazing friendships because they have so much potential.  Although maybe common circumstances originally brought you together, they can someday become those “family” friends, as it survives through time and divergent paths.

With any of these latter types of friendships though, some risk is required.  When the friendship first begins, you “put yourself out there” wondering if when the season or school year ends, will so too the friendship?  And perhaps you are more invested in the friendship than the other person and you end up getting hurt through a loss of trust or lack of interest.  But this can’t keep us from accepting God’s blessings of other friends.

He calls us to trust Him in all aspects of our lives.  And he wants to richly bless our friendships just as he wants to bless our marriages, children, and faith lives.  We must turn those friendships over to him and believe that they will sustain life’s trials according to His will.

And how can we teach our children and direct them to have strong friendships, but by modeling loving friendships ourselves?  We must believe that the Holy Spirit will direct them to other children who will love and accept them, building life-long friendships, just as he is directing us.

I pray that you are blessed by strong and faith-filled friendships and that the Holy Spirit will fill your friendships with love and laughter.friends2

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