Wednesday, 5 October 2016

With a Little Help from our Friends

By Megan James

Everywhere we look, we can see the fascination, the appeal and, importance of friendship. Look at books, films and TV: just how many are centred on groups of friends?  I mean, the most popular sitcom of our time is quite literally named after this concept! (That’s F.R.I.E.N.D.S for all you really young people or TV-phobes. It’s gold). 

But let’s look at the good stuff to really bring this idea home; let’s go Biblical.

'Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set.'

Exodus 17:11-12

A friend of mine reminded me of this for considering the role of friendship in our lives. 

Here we see God give Moses the power to bring Israel to victory against the Amalekites (someone please help me pronounce this...) by the mere lifting of his arms. However, after a while of standing with his arms raised, Moses begins to waver, his arms grow tired and Israel begins to lose. You may ask, ‘why didn’t God just make Moses super strong? There was a bit of a flaw in His plan there.’ But God didn’t need to give Moses unwavering strength because He had already given him all the support he needed in the form of his two loyal pals. 

When Moses’ strength begins to fail, Aaron and Hur each take one of his arms, raising them for him.  Here God is showing us the absolute invaluableness of friendship; He shows us that yes, He makes each and every one of us capable of greatness, but we cannot do it alone. He shows us that He has made each and every one of us in such a way that we need each other.  There are going to be days when we are Moses and our arms are going to get pretty darn tired, and there are days when we are going to be Aaron or Hur, and we’re going to need to do some serious lifting.            

                So what can we do? Well, we can make sure we treasure our God given friendships and use them the way in which He intended them to be used.

 1)      Friends that pray together, stay together

If you are blessed with a Catholic community around you, then go to prayer groups! If there isn’t one near you, then start one! (You literally only need one other person to do this). But if the area you’re in isn’t overwhelmed with fellow Catholics, do not let this dishearten you; call a friend in another city, send texts, send emails, write letters; be creative. What inspired this post was actually phone call with a friend. 

At the end of a long conversation where we caught up and unburdened ourselves, just as I went to say goodbye, she said ‘do you want to pray together?’ It was beautiful. There we were, opposite ends of the country, praying for and with one another. And, hey, I don’t know if Jesus gets in on phone calls, but I’d like to think He was definitely there with us. 

The power of prayer never fails; it is the direct bridge between you and God. Who better to walk that bridge with than your friends?

‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ 

Matthew 18:20

2)      Friends hold eachother accountable

Living a faithful life can seem so easy when you’re surrounded by enthusiastic Catholics at retreats who share your joys and struggles. But in our day to day lives, it is so easy to slip into bad habits, following the crowd; especially in places like uni where we may not have the same spiritual support we have at home or at Youth 2000. 

This is why our friendships are vital

Our friends can act like angels on our shoulders, or our spiritual sat navs, keeping us on route to heaven. Check in with your friends, keep up to date with each other’s lives and hold one another accountable. We all want to live the same truth, so let’s walk that truth alongside one another, and make sure we stop to check the map together.

'Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools suffers harm.'

Proverbs 13:20

3)     Friends keep each other awake!

There will be times that your friends will not just let you rest, as Aaron and Hur did for Moses, but rather they will completely revive you. Think about Lazarus. We know from the Bible that Mary, Martha and Lazarus were dear friends to Jesus; he enjoyed their company, they hung out. 

When Lazarus died, Jesus was so moved by the devastation of his friends (and himself) that he raised him from the dead. There will be times where we may feel spiritually dead. Our friendships, like Jesus to Lazarus, are there to help us rise again; to remind us of not just our own strength, but of His. Through Christ we can do all things, and our friends will help us to see that even when we can’t for ourselves.

'After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”'

John 11:11

4)      Friends can be the light

C.S Lewis once said:

Shine not so others can see you, shine so that others can see Him’. 

Your friendship is a testimony in itself of God’s love, so take it out into the world and share the joy and the light that you have with everyone you meet. Do not lead a double life, keeping your faith and your spirit just for your Christian friends. Be open, be loving and be YOU. When people see the beauty and honesty in the friend that you are, there’s no way they aren’t going to want to get in on that action. So, evangelise through love. Evangelise through friendship.

'Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.'

Matthew 5:16

5)      Thank the Lord for Friendships

When you have friends, real friends, you speak heart to heart, and these relationships are rooted in love and are beautiful in their own right. Add faith to these relationships, and they are then rooted even deeper, they are rooted in Christ. Suddenly, with those friends, you don’t just share your love, but also His. Soul to soul.

When you find friends who you can bare your soul to, treasure them. These are your fellow pilgrims on your journey to the heart of Christ. These are your comrades in the midst of spiritual battle. These are your Aarons and Hurs who will hold your wavering arms. The people that God places in your life are by no accident. Just like with Moses, God always knows who and what you need. These friends are another one of God’s many ways of making His love a physical presence here with us. Don’t let His love go unnoticed. 

Thank the Lord for friendship.

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