When Your Friend is Suffering
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down ones life for his friends.” -John 15:13
There are many verses in the Bible that I think about daily. John 15:13 is defiantly one of them. I, personally, take the verse two ways. The first is the literal translation. No one has greater love than the die for their friend. This interpretation is how many people understand it. I like to think of it in a different way. Maybe sometimes there is another way to “lay down your life” for someone. Maybe it means that no man has greater love than to put their friend’s needs far above their own: to sacrifice their own happiness, comfort, fulfillment, etc. in order to care for their friend. This is what I remember when one of my friends are struggling.
Friendship is such a weird thing. I don’t really remember how I made any friends. I just remember meeting them and then all of the sudden we were friends. When you’re close friends with someone, usually there is a kind of I’m-on-my-way-with-ice cream-and-movies mentality. And most of the time, it’s sincere. However, most people think that when their friends struggle, they’re going to tell you exactly how they feel or just be sad and snuggly, when the reality is that that really isn’t the case. When people struggle, they tend to close-off, become irritable, angry, emotional, sensitive, and difficult. Sometimes they can become hostile, rude, short, or even malicious. People deal with problems in different ways. So that lovey dovey friendship thing becomes much harder.
The number one reason why we bail on each other when times get tough is because we are all so unbelievably self-centered. Even though it isn’t right for our friends to mistreat us when they’re hurting, if you’re a true friend you will put your own feelings aside to care for your friend.
The First step to truly helping your friend is to identify the “cries for help”. You have to notice the little changes in their personality that suggests that something isn’t right (See paragraph two). It’s completely unnatural for people to broadcast when their hurting… usually smh.
Step two is to NEVER TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Never assume that you’re being attacked because those little personality changes are almost always offensive. Come on, you should know your friends well enough that you’d know they wouldn’t snap at you for no reason. It’s common sense. As soon as you start taking their behavior personally, you become completely useless to their recovery.
Step three is to pray for them. Prayer is a Christian’s greatest weapon, and so many of us either forget about it or underestimate it. Prayer is a direct line to Jesus. Anytime, anywhere. Pray and pray and pray. A lot of the time, that’s all you can do.
Step four is to LISTEN. If your friend trusts you enough to confide in you, then listen! I love the saying ,”People need to stop listening to reply, and start listening to understand”. This is so true. Don’t give unsolicited advise. It’s annoying and unnecessary. If they ask for your advice, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, shut up and let them vent. Sometimes people need to just talk it out.
Step five is to just be there. Be an anchor to your friend. Sometimes they don’t need any special treatment, they just need for you to be there for them while they deal with things themselves.
Finally, step six. Pray some more.
It’s not gonna be fun for you, but just think of how you would want to be treated if you were suffering. I always try to treat people with the same compassion I would have if they were having the worst day of their life. Maybe you can be that ray of hope in someone’s life; that one person who has patience, or says the nice thing, or does that one little thing that changes everything.
It will be rewarding in the end. Just tough it out. Be Jesus to those around you.
I have a friend right now who I know is suffering in silence. I know that I’m probably the only one who will stick around for long enough to help them. It’s pretty funny how terribly this person has treated me. After LOTS of prayer, I understood that I needed to be their lighthouse. No matter how badly this person treats me, I know that they need someone to pray over every step they take, all throughout the day. They need someone to pray for spiritual and emotional healing. I’ve seen this person at their best, and I’ve seen their potential. I know that it is a God-calling because there is no possible way that I’d put up with them unless it was God’s plan. But I’m happy to do it. Its easy because all I have to do is pray all the time, not take anything personally, be there for them, and pray some more.
When Jesus gives you a heart of compassion, treating your friends this way goes from being a chore to being a privilege. I’m thankful for every minute of it, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out when they finally let Jesus take control.
So next time you notice one of your friends suffering, think about this stuff. But also remember that it comes from the brain of a twenty year-old… So use your own wisdom.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” -Proverbs 27:9
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:24-25
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” -Proverbs 27:17
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” – 1 Peter 4:8-10
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” -John 12:14