If we have Jesus, why are friends so important?
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
I titled these two blog posts, "I get by with a little help from my friends," because I know I would not be able to get by without the friends God has blessed me with. As I've struggled through the trials of my life, I can say quite confidently that though I've been through counseling, been on medication, been to psychiatrists and psychologists, nothing, besides Jesus Himself, has brought as much healing to the wounds of my life as the love of my friends. Not that those other avenues weren't helpful, but they weren't as powerful as my friends. And when the love of Jesus is coupled with the love of friends, no wound is too deep and no battle is too fierce.
The truth is when God puts friends in our life, especially Christian friends who have the Holy Spirit residing in them, He really is just giving us another avenue in which to relate to and experience Him. Our friends can minister to us in ways the Word of God cannot. The Bible cannot bring us meals when someone is sick or someone has died, but a friend from God can. The Bible cannot sit in a hospital waiting room all night, keeping vigil and praying with us, but a friend from God can. The Bible cannot hug us while we're crying, but a friend from God can. God knows that there are certain physical needs that we as humans have and the best way to provide for those is for us to interact with Him through other human beings.
I love the verses above from Ecclesiastes because they echo the sentiment that so many of us intuitively know, that two people together are better than one. Our culture is one of "rugged individualism", the concept that the individual can and should be self-sufficient. We often take that to the extreme, though, and forget that God created us to rely on one another. We could do a job alone, but we are more efficient and productive if another works on it with us. If we are alone, we can struggle by ourselves to get up when we fall, or a companion can come in and offer a helping hand. We could function alone in the cold world, or we can come together and share our warmth. God gave us each other as a gift and seldom do we use that gift to the full potential.
The most powerful part of those verses for me, though is the last part. "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." We fight an enemy in this life, a mingling of our flesh and Satan. While we can tame our flesh, without Jesus, we are prey to anything Satan throws at us. And yes, it is true that since we belong to Jesus, we have the power to overcome Satan, but there are times when we are weak, and need another person to help defend us. One lone soldier walking out on a battlefield is easily picked off. A whole platoon walking out on a battlefield is a much more formidable opponent.
There have been times in my life where I've been slowly "dying", where I'm praying and reading scripture and fighting like crazy, but victory is still slipping from my fingers. It is in these times that simply going to a friend, for a hug, a wise or encouraging word or to pray with me, has proven to be the key to winning the fight. In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus says, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” That is why God gave us friends, so that we can have people to be the two or three with us and we all can experience God and His comfort, wisdom and provisions in a deeper and more powerful way. As much as you work on praying and learning scripture, work on developing and growing healthy Christian friendships. We were meant to be with each other.