By Darlene Melcher
It has been said that friendships are forged in the furnace of life. I have more than one “furnace friend.” Those special people who draw closer rather than farther away when your life is a mess and you just need help and encouragement.
As I sat in the living room and looked around at the circle of women in my life group (small group, Bibles study group, discipleship group.. however you like to phrase it). I knew that each one of them had encouraged me. Without Abigail, I might not have remembered to adore God in prayer. Without Michelle, I would forever believe I was terrible at evangelism. Jordyn shares my struggles and texts me scriptures. Heather brought me chili and opens her heart. Cricket shares her struggles and her home and hospitality. Anita stands a little further down the path of life and cheers me on. Emily steps out in faith and encourages me to do the same. And these are only snippets of their contributions in my life.
Clinging to other believers in Jesus will carry us through. A hug just may give hope. Next time a friend asks you to pray for them, do it, out loud, right then. My friend’s prayers have lifted my head out of the waters of despair and into the light of God’s truth.
We must be willing to both give and receive the companionship and help of believers in Christ. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community:
The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. The burden of men was so heavy for God Himself that He had to endure the Cross.”[i]
Those who follow Jesus are to be different. We are to be burden bearers.
But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16
The church is depicted as a living body, the body of Christ. Our unity is to be as the members of a physical body. Just as the hand would dress the wound on the feet and the eyes look on with compassion, the members of the Christian church should attend to each other.
You are not Rambo! Don’t try to do life alone. The enemy of our souls loves nothing more than to pick off the stragglers. Let’s trust God and believe that we need each other, and we reflect God’s glory better together.
[i] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community; (New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row Publishers, 1954) Used with permission