Life-giving Friendships

by Sophie Bolton

As I sit down to write this blog post, I’m acutely aware of the different experiences we all have of friendships. We all have different stories to tell, different situations we’re in and different things on our hearts and this blog post will by no means cover everything! But let’s take comfort in the fact that we all know the same loving, constant and faithful God who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Friendships can so often feel like the thing that defines us and gives us identity. We often turn to our friends for stability, comfort and security. Friends make us feel like we belong, they make us feel loved and valued. But our friends can also let us down, they can disappoint us and say things that hurt us. As seasons in our lives change, our friends may drift out of lives naturally or they may move away from us geographically. I’m sure we all have experiences of both the joy and hurt that friendships can bring.

The friendships in our lives are beautiful gifts from God. They are not to be taken for granted and we should be deeply grateful to God for all the people He’s placed in our lives. Why not take a moment now to thank God for those special people He’s put in your life?

So why are friends, who are gifts to us from God, sometimes sources of hurt or disappointment? I think it’s because we place unrealistic expectations on the people in our lives.

I’ve recently been reflecting on Psalm 23. In this well-known Psalm, the familiar words have been speaking to me of how, ultimately, we find all we need in God. We find our comfort, stability and sense of belonging and acceptance in our Good Shepherd and He will never disappoint us or let us down. Even when walk through dark times and feel alone, we know God is with us and will comfort us.

I’ve been praying recently, and I invite you to join me, about how much I truly believe that God is all I need. We will inevitably pass through different seasons in our lives. There may be times when we are socially rich and times when we feel lonely. But our God is unchanging, He’s constant and always faithful.

I’m not saying that we don’t need friends and that we should cut ourselves off from others just to be with God. I’m saying that once we’ve found our sufficiency in God, it removes the pressure from our human relationships to fill in the gap which only God can fill. It leaves us to react graciously when our friends let us down, to find joy in the people placed around us, to prefer others above ourselves and to love them unconditionally.

So let’s all come to our loving Father, who knows us so intimately and loves us so deeply. Let’s allow God to fill the gap which only He can fill, and let’s love our friends out of the love which God has first given to us.