Friends are for the hard times. We read in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” This is when friendship means the most. Friends come alongside to help shoulder the load. Who can forget the dramatic scene near the end of The Return of the King, the third film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Remember how Sam and Frodo were near the end of their quest to destroy the Ring of Power? Frodo collapses from exhaustion, and Sam hoists him up on his shoulders, saying, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” That’s what friends are for. They are for the hard times to carry each other through pain, suffering, and disappointment.
Friends are for sharpening. In Proverbs 27:17, we read, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” What does such sharpening look like? It may look like correction, even rebuke. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” But notice that these wounds are “faithful”; they are offered by a friend who comes in love and genuine concern. A doctor who offers a diagnosis with designs on a cure is not indulging a critical spirit but is seeking to help and heal. Such are the wounds friends give. They help us to see our sinful blind spots. They can be used of God’s Holy Spirit to point us to needed areas of repentance.
Friends are for encouraging. Once again, Proverbs helps. We read in Proverbs 27:9, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” A friend’s words to help and to encourage are sweet to us—they are more than pleasant. Encouragement can be life sustaining and life giving, like a tall glass of ice water after a summer’s day of mowing the lawn.
God has blessed me with friends. I’m very grateful for a special group of friends I met in college. We gather once a year for a reunion weekend and have been doing this for over twenty years. We’ve gone on life’s journey together and watched each other marry, have children, raise them, watch them marry, and even seen ourselves become grandparents. It’s been a wild ride together, and we’ve shared heartache and happiness, delight, and defeat. I’m so thankful I have these friends. God gives friends and even calls us His friends. What a blessing.
In the closing scene of The King’s Speech, King George VI gives a word of encouragement to the people of England on the brink of war with Germany. Standing beside him and encouraging him through every word and syllable of the speech is Lionel Logue. Shortly after the speech, the king says to him, “Thank you, Logue . . . my friend.”
The king learned what friends are for. Likewise, we should too. Let us pursue this grand and glorious gift of friendship that the Lord gives us. Let us rejoice in our friendship with the King of kings. C.S. Lewis says it well, “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?” I think not.