Over the years of dealing with various struggles in my life, I have been blessed by so many different friends. None of these friendships have been quite the same, nor have I benefited from all of them in the same manner. Some of my friends have been in situations that have differed greatly from one another.
I have been blessed by the fellowship of friends who have suffered in ways that have paralleled my own experience. With these friends I enjoy a special camaraderie, and I feel like I am deeply understood. I also benefit from learning how someone else has lived through the toughest phases of their life. In these relationships I find both compassion and testimonies that spur me on in my own journey.
Somewhat in contrast to the friends whom I have mentioned above, I have also been so thankful for the people in my life who, in my hour of need, are experiencing more stable phases in their journeys, and who are not only willing but also able to help me, thanks to their circumstances. These may not be the people whom I expect to understand my situation as easily or thoroughly (although sometimes they have turned out to be some of the most empathetic people in my life). What I have however found to be true concerning friends in this category is that, even if they find it harder to imagine how I feel about what I’m going through, they’re the ones who can give me a huge amount of love and support because they themselves are not in a place of great need.
In our trials, we really want to have both types of friends. If we only ever had the second type of friend, we might never sense that anyone completely knew how we felt, and we would struggle with the sense that no one had ever been down a difficult road like ours before. Yet, if we only ever had the first type of friend, the suffering type, how would any of us ever be able to give one another enough support when life got really hard? I have so much to be thankful for because I have been blessed with more than my fair share of both types of friends. I also certainly hope that, even if I’m never in a position to perfectly be both a suffering and a stable friend (it’s terribly hard to be both of those things at once), I will at least be faithful at being one of those types of friends.
One stand-alone and uniquely beautiful experience in my life has been having one friend who is perfectly able to be both a fellow sufferer and a stable friend to me at the same time. I’ve never met anyone else like him. He understands my pain perfectly, because he has suffered deeply himself. As he has told me about the trials that he has gone through, I have both shuddered in horror and wondered with amazement at how he survived.
Yet, not only does he perfectly understand suffering, but he has also always been able to help me. He will always be able to help me. He is stronger and more stable than anyone else whom I know. And yes, it really is impossible for any human to match such a description. This friend whom I am describing is beyond human; he is the God whom, in my faith, we read about in the Bible, where his suffering and love are displayed. There we learn that he wants his children to draw near to him amid their suffering, at which times he sympathizes with their pain and sends help to their souls. (I have written plenty more about God’s love and sympathy in the “about” section of this blog.)
I have no issue with admitting that I have struggled sometimes along this journey of life. I am so thankful that, amidst the difficult stretches of the journey, I have had every type of friend that I have mentioned above. I can’t imagine my life without these friendships. I hope that you have been equally blessed. Meaningful friendships make such a difference in all phases of life. I hope that we can be meaningful friends to other people, regardless of the form that that friendship needs to take at the moment.