Friends Who Fail You

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

I stumbled across this post by John Piper on Desiring God, and it did, in fact, strike a chord with me and I know this issue impacts us all. We’ve all been on both sides of this equation. I wanted to share this with you all. Now I want to listen to his message on it. Have a wonderful day!

Piper on Friends Who Fail You:

Last Sunday’s message struck a chord with many when I spoke of Christian friends letting you down. I argued that sometimes they forsake you never to return — like Demas. He loved “the present world,” and so abandoned the great apostle who craved the Lord’s appearing more than he craved the world (2 Timothy 4:8).

And, even more relevant, we saw that many friends let you down but can and should remain your friends and your partners in ministry. Paul said that nobody from his team or from the church in Rome showed up to stand by him at his trial (2 Timothy 4:16). Nobody. Not Luke or Eubulus or Pudens or Linus or Claudia or any of “the brothers” (2 Timothy 4:21).

Nevertheless Paul graciously includes them with himself in greeting Timothy, and writes, “May it not be charged against them!” (2 Timothy 4:16). Amazing. Beautiful. Their fellowship survived this painful moment of abandonment.

After the sermon one of my own partners in ministry, Amanda Knoke, Director of Communications at Bethlehem, pointed me to C. S. Lewis’s wise words on this issue. Here’s what he said to “An American Lady.”

I think what one has to remember when people “hurt” one is that in 99 cases out of a 100 they intended to hurt very much less, or not at all, and are often quite unconscious of the whole thing. I’ve learned this from the cases in which I was the “hurter.” When I have been really wicked and angry and meant to be nasty, the other party never cared or even didn’t notice. On the other hand, when I have found out afterwards that I had deeply hurt someone, it has dearly always been quite unconscious on my part. (C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady, Grand Rapids, 1967, 57)

Amanda connected this with Proverbs. 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

Yes. And we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who was abandoned by all 11 of his apostles, and was denied by Peter. Then he built the church on them!

We look to Jesus not only because he was the great model of holding onto friends who let him down, but also because he died and rose again to be the joyful bond of broken and restored friendships.

So keep Jesus before your eyes, and pray this into your heart: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8).

Whatever you do, don’t let the failure of your Christian friends become the basis for abandoning the one Friend who never fails.

Shalom,

Rachel B. Duke

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Believing is Seeing

“We must get over wanting to be needed – this is the hardest of all temptations to resist.” – C.S. Lewis

Today was just a C.S. Lewis type of day (note: after writing this whole thing out, I discovered all the quotes I found somehow fit perfectly within and complemented my post). It all started when I was sent this quote as a way of encouragement:

Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.

I had read/heard of the quote before, but it had slipped my mind. Then in my Bible reading plan (Soul Detox from YouVersion) complemented that quote when I was assigned to read and study Psalm 27. Verse 14 stood out to me:

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

I don’t know about you, but some days in my heart it feels that the world is ending, even though, in reality, the sun is still shining. I grappled with this verse. Ok, Lord, I can wait, which is agony enough, but “be strong”? There are so many times I feel so weak that I feel I’ll snap in two. I’m ashamed to even write that, knowing my “hardships” (see, I even have to put that in quotes) are minute. But then I realized in really chewing on this verse that waiting on the Lord – trusting in His faithfulness, having an eternal/godly perspective, clinging to Him, basing your hope and joy in Him – DOES produce a strength you cannot conjure on your own. It’s a different kind of strength than we typically think of.

Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd.

It’s ironic – sometimes I have to write these blog posts out to realize the depth of my sin, the narrowness of my perspective and my lack of faith. But on the flip-side of that I see the humbling mercy of God in Christ, the riches of His love, His pursuit of me despite my wanderings and how much He has blessed me with. It’s so easy to fall into being self-centered – some struggle with that enslaving downfall more than others. Let me encourage you, as I encourage myself, to strive for holiness in seeking to fulfill the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-39):

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Because I find the times in which I serve and love on others, some of the most beautiful and richest moments of my life because my focus is no longer on me.

This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.

So, if you think about it upside down (which is really right side up) you’re really showing yourself some love….and I want to be careful here….this is what I don’t mean….I don’t mean that you should love others to get something from them. What I meant by that statement is despite what the world and your sinful side tells you about how you shouldn’t do this or that for a person or they deserve this or that and not your love/grace…..DON’T listen to those lies. Know that you may suffer and maybe you won’t “gain” anything on earth, but I’d encourage you to look at Christ’s life on earth and what you have to gain eternally.

Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even agony into a glory.

Perspective is such a key word here. It’s SO hard and I know I fail often. Don’t beat yourself when you fall down. Know His mercies are new every morning and that He has already forgiven it when He died for you (quickly insert Romans 6:1 here).

It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.

Let me leave you with this one last encouragement and commandment from Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…

Shalom,

Rachel B. Duke