Have you ever been let down by a friend?
Pick any friendship – in fact, choose your most satisfying friendship – and put it to the test with these questions:
• Have you ever felt misunderstood?
• Have you ever been hurt by what the other person said?
• Have you ever felt that you haven’t been heard?
• Have you ever been betrayed?
• Have you ever had to work through a misunderstanding?
• Have you ever disagreed on a decision?
• Have you ever held a grudge?
• Have you ever experienced loneliness even when things were going well?
• Have you ever doubted the other person’s commitment?
• Have you ever struggled to resolve a conflict?
• Have you ever wished you didn’t have to give or serve?
• Have you ever felt used?
Could you answer “yes” to every question listed above? Could your friend answer “yes” to the same questions, asked about you?
Even the most harmonious friendship will be messy and require a lot of work this side of eternity. How much more does it apply to relationships that don’t come naturally, or with people who aren’t our friends?
This is why the Bible includes so many commands and exhortations to be patient, kind, forgiving, compassionate, gentle, and humble.
Review that list of questions again. We all failed the friendship test. Do you feel discouraged and overwhelmed by this reality and the amount of work that friendships will require?
If left to ourselves, nothing good would happen. But we do have good friendships, and each one is a gift of God’s grace.
Think of what God has given to help us navigate friendship in a fallen world. He has gifted us with his Word, rich with wise principles. He has supplied us his Spirit, convicting us when we are wrong, empowering us to seek forgiveness, and enabling us to show compassion to those who have wronged us. He has provided us with a community of fellow Christians, where we receive ongoing correction and encouragement.
We have everything we need for life, godliness, and friendship! (2 Peter 1:3)
The mistake we make is to interpret God’s “divine power” as something that only delivers us from life’s problems. In reality, that power grants us the ability to persevere amid those problems.
It’s not wrong to desire God’s gift of relief, but so often we miss (or are disappointed with) his generous gift of empowerment.
When difficulty comes in your friendship, and it will, you are never without power. While sin and the ensuing conflict is an ever-present reality, it’s no match for Jesus Christ!
This is a profound and radical way to think about your friendships. It should help you become more realistic, less fearful, and increasingly confident.
1. How have you been let down by a friend, either recently or significantly in the past?
2. Are there ways in which you may have let down a friend unknowingly in recent days or weeks? Is there something you should confess, even if it hasn’t been brought up by them?
3. Are you annoyed, hurt, or frustrated with a friend but afraid to bring it before them? What are you afraid of? How can you address this issue biblically?
4. Have you ever been confronted by a friend for letting them down? How did you respond, and what did your response reveal about your heart?
5. What is one thing that you can do this week to become a better friend? Be specific and practical, and move forward with gospel hope and optimism!