I’ll Stand by You

My friends are my friends.  Right or wrong, my friends are my friends.  And I stand by my friends.  It’s not that I always agree with them.  Lockstep does not friendship make, and it is not a requirement to be a friend of mine.  I am not ashamed to make these bold statements, and I’m not taking them back.  While I don’t agree with everything my friends do, neither do I agree with everything I do.  I offer my friends what I hope they will offer me, and that is support in times of need and encouragement in a disheartening world.

See, friendship is misunderstood and misapplied in today’s world.  A friend is not one sharing the same entertainment tastes or hobbies.  It is not even someone you like.  Though these things may seem integral to friendship and are certainly important, they do little to define the fraternal bond in a substantive way.  While it is common for Christian people to say, “I like (even love) everyone,” that doesn’t lay the foundation stones for friendship (even if it were true).  Friendship is more than commonality and romanticism. 

Friendships develop over time from innocuous beginnings.  At some point, they are intentional.  Normally, people find themselves thrust together in circumstances not of their choosing.  For instance, schoolmates may become lifelong friends yet meet in a classroom unselected by either.  People will form valuable connections through churches (partly volitional) though the relationships were not clearly seen at the outset.  We are placed in necessary situations and find needed friendships.

I said friendships are not based on superficialities.  In your life, you will find that supposed friends slough off.  Whatever the reason, life intervenes and connections are lost.  It is immaterial whose fault it is- it happens.  This does not mean these bonds were not types of friendships, but it does mean all friendships are not of the same order.  Deep friendships don’t fall away.  They maintain over years and miles and do not necessarily involve continual contact.

Friendships are not surface relationships and can be painful.  The nature of friendship, however, is to be hardy and resilient.  Not all friendly relations are such, but you can’t make a racehorse out of a mule.  There is no single tool for building though some are more useful than others.  You will find the analogy true when considering you compatriots.  Some are handy while others are not.  Then, again, none of us are able to carry all burdens.  We have a Savior for that.

Make no mistake.  Your friends are the people who stand by you.  I bought this valuable lesson with pain through honest observation and heartbreaking experience.  While I do not wish to be unfair, it is simply true that friends in name only will not be friends in deed in trying times.  There may be many justifications for comrades not stepping up to the plate when chips are down and not all of them are unreasonable.  However, the absence of support in difficulty cannot take into account those who do not have time to be involved, and their silence is deafening.

A few Bible passages address friendship, its depth and the pain of its loss.  We should not take friendship lightly.  One day, each of us will need a friend.  And there is a spiritual component to the human bond.  Scripture urges us not to forsake our friends or those connected with and supportive of our families.  In your days, I hope you will find a Jonathan to your David.   

I’ll stand by you, my friend.  I’ve been on many hopeless missions, and I’m not afraid to watch the dark night fall.  In your darkest hour, I’ll not desert you.  No one will hurt you, if I can do anything about it.  I’ve stood by friends to bitter ends and watched foes burn long-built edifices.  If I can protect you, I will, and I will not leave you in times of despair.

My friends can trust me.  I hope you will discover and develop reliable friendships, and I hope your friends will rest in you.

Sterl

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