18th January 2013

Don’t Be A Fair-Weather Friend

“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened with thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, but that cease to flow in the dry season.”
Job 6:14 (NIV UK)

Not far from where I live is a stream that often dries up in the summer months. For the past few weeks it has been overflowing, bursting its banks in many places. Maybe there is a stream like that near where you live.

Job had gone through a terrible season in his life. He and his wife had lost their beautiful children to a savage death. All their possessions had been taken away. They had been left with nothing. Job began to wonder where God was in this, and whether God really cared. His friends came to see him and they thought that he must have sinned in some way. Why else would God allow these things, they thought mistakenly. It was good that his friends came to see him, but they did not supply the emotional support he and his wife needed. Instead they preached at him. They, in Job’s mind, were fair-weather friends, dependable in good times but not in times of trouble. They were “as undependable as intermittent streams”.

Some Christians have nothing to do with people who leave the faith. Perhaps they see it as a way of punishing the unfaithful to bring them back to their senses, or they fear that faithlessness is infectious and they don’t want to catch it, or they think they cannot engage with unbelievers in a meaningful way. Whatever the reason may be, it reminds me of Job’s words above. When someone “forsakes the fear of the Almighty”, it is a time, not for rejection, but for friendship. After all, when we were far from God, did Christ not die for us, sacrificing himself for us because he regards us his friends? “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

If your friend departs from the faith, surround him or her with your loving support, talk about God as he or she would wish, but, above all, be there for your friend as Jesus is there for us.

Friendship is for all seasons in life.

Almighty God, help me to be a friend to others in good times and in bad.  In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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