Heart-felt Gratitude

What is something you are thankful for this Thanksgiving season? Perhaps your family members, your pets, your job, things such as this? As you ponder on that question, I want to share with you something I am thankful for. Our dear Lord put it on my heart to express to you my gratitude for God-given friendships.

True friends are difficult to find. So much so that you cannot find them; they are given to you. Do you know who gives them to you? Our Creator and Sustainer, God almighty, presents them to us. They often stick closer than family, and even know you better. They pray bigger things for you than which you pray for yourself. They believe for you when your faith is weak. They make space and time for you when life falls apart, and they rejoice with you when all is well. Most importantly, true friends remind you in every season Who and What is most important above all else. This Christian relationship is a gem, because it helps us cling to our greatest Treasure: Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Bread of Life, our Living Water, our Light, our Resurrection, our very Life. The greatest danger to our souls is that we might abandon abiding in Him, following Him, and finding our joy in Him. Therefore, the best gift a friend can give is a commitment to fight for our joy in and communion with Christ.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

Companionship always furthers joy, in my experience. Some of my most dear memories in life are of those spent with a friend. But of all the joys of life, God is the greatest! We were made for Him — to enjoy Him and center our hearts and lives on Him. And like any other delight, our delight in God will be the fullest when we share it with other people. Godly friends help us enjoy our Father by enjoying Him with us.

I want to be honest with you. True, godly pals expose the sin that is keeping us from growing closer to God. Sin deceives us. Our spiritual enemies use it as an attempt to darken our understanding and make us foolish. To the very extent that we may be walking in sin and convinced that we are obeying God. This is why we desperately need friends. We need them to lovingly show us our sin. We need friends to help us see our blind spots. We need them to speak with brutal honesty (Matthew 18:15) and tender compassion (Galatians 6:1), telling us the truth about ourselves even when we don’t want to hear it (Ephesians 4:15). Comrades like this are such an undeserved, rare gift.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

“True friendship knows no distance.” You may have heard this saying before. I have come to know personally that it is quite true. With certain people, the miles between you really don’t matter all that much. There’s a certain spiritual depth about close friendships that transcends time and space. The miles between you don’t affect you too much, although you do ache to see each other in person. Not the time zones or differences, not the way one wakes up earlier while the other sleeps, or how their two schedules hardly overlap. Because even in the complications, the two hearts are forever tied. True friendship knows no fear. God did not give us the spirit of fear! Not when it comes to standing beside one another, fighting against your enemies together. Not when it comes to people standing in the way. Not when it comes to truly being there, to never letting either one feel like they’re alone. Even when life gets complicated, it remains strong, because of the One in us giving us His strength.

Do you remember David and Jonathan? The friendship of Prince Jonathan and Israel’s future king, David, is one of the most amazing friendships ever recorded, in my humble opinion. After David defeats Goliath, Jonathan is drawn to him. He makes a covenant with David, stripping himself of his robe and armor – his privilege and position – and hands it all to David. He loves David “as himself” (twice mentioned in 1 Samuel 18:1-3). In this way, he is an example of the Bible’s greatest commands: to love the Lord your God wholeheartedly and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jonathan is committing himself totally to his friend David, who does the same, and he had evidently befriended him when David served in King Saul’s court and whom he recognized as God’s anointed future king of Israel. The former is astounding when you think of what the latter meant. Without knowing what would happen in the years to come, Jonathan willingly confers his right to the throne to his friend. What remarkable, self-sacrificing love! David never forgot his vow to Jonathan and honored him by composing “The Song of the Bow” and instructing all the children of Israel to learn it. After Jonathan’s death, David also took in Jonathan’s disabled son as part of his own family. The true friendship between Jonathan and David is a shining example of Christ-like love and loyalty.

“I knew that when I met you an adventure was going to happen.” Winnie the Pooh

I pray you have a friend such as this. If you don’t, I hope one day you will. But also, be reminded that Christ is the best friend any of us can ever have. Still, I thank God for the “Jonathan” in my life. She is a blessing that I hope I never take for granted, not even once. Our precious bond offers solace during hard times and laugh til-your-face-hurts gladness during other times. There are so many things I could say, but all I really want to say right now is this: my heart is full. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!