“O my dear brother Jonathan, I’m crushed by your death. Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I’ve known— or ever hope to know” (1 Samuel 1:26, MSG).
David and Jonathan were bound by the deepest friendship. On report of Jonathan's death, David was crushed, but he said something in this verse that speaks of Jonathan's friendship being one that exceeded anything he had ever known. His friendship was a “miracle-wonder”. C. H Spurgeon once stated, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” Do you know that a friend carries the load when you are unable to take one more step? I have a quote on a picture a friend printed off for me several years ago. “A friend is someone”, it reads, “who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” A friend also knows your heart and encourages your heart's miracle when you have given up hope.
Luke writes of a man who might have missed his healing without the determination of his friends to literally carry him. Four men bring their paralytic friend to a house where Jesus is, but can’t get through that mass of people. Determined, they climb to the roof of the house by an outside stairway. After removing roof tiles and prying up the mud and wattle, they lower the paralytic’s pallet through the opening. Jesus looks up, and observes the pallet being lowered. What does he see? He sees the faces of four men filled with stark hungering need for their friend’s healing. He also sees great faith revealed in their faces. Jesus looks at the paralytic and announces, “Friend, your sins are forgiven. Rise up, and pick up your mat. Go home” (Luke 5:16-24).
In Proverbs Solomon lists three strong values found in a good friend. He loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17); he is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); he never forsakes his friend (27:10). The story of the paralytic in Luke supports Solomon’s observations. The paralytic received constant love from his friends. He was closer than a brother, and his friends did not forsake him. They believed in his healing and did what they could to help him. Maybe the paralytic had given up all hope, and had asked him to just leave him alone. Perhaps he asked them not to cut a hole in the roof. Or maybe because he was unable to do anything for himself he was relying upon his friends. Whatever the case what can we understand about friendship from this example of the four friends’ commitment? No matter what your friend’s belief or lack of belief, you believe in the very best for him. You believe in his miracle when despair has claimed his heart. You go the distance for him.
True friendship never acts upon its own desire, but only upon the desire of the Holy Spirit. It listens to His guidance. True friendship never sacrifices the heart of a friend. If a friend shares his heart, he has trusted you enough to make himself vulnerable to what you think of him and to your assessment. If your friend comes to you seeking advice, pray for God's wisdom and always extend the grace of honesty without judging him. If you are a loving friend, and not a “Job” friend, you will know that you don't have all the answers, but you will carefully listen. If the Holy Spirit gives you insight, you will only offer that insight, and not place any expectation upon your friend. If you make a suggestion, you make it clear that you love him no matter what–that you do not have all the answers. God extends free will to us, and we must do the same. You can believe in a promise for your friend, but you can never demand that he believe it. You can share what the Holy Spirit has shown you, but you can't coerce him to believe. That is not your place. Your place is to believe, encourage, and inspire. You will love him at all times, and never forsake him. You accept him with all his hangups and struggles just as you have been accepted with all of yours.
A David and Jonathan friendship knows the other friend's heart without asking. When a friend gets to the end of his faith and has lost all hope, you will know it. If the day comes when the Holy Spirit tells you to cut that hole in the roof for your friend, you will step out in faith and cut that hole in the roof. You will believe for the miracle Jesus has promised. You will know the time, and that the Lord is waiting to see your loving obedience for the sake of your friend. Trust the Savior who has lead you to the place of the roof, and step out in faith. Believe when your friend has forgotten the song in his heart. When your friend is relying on your faith, be a “miracle-wonder” friend. The Holy Spirit stands below your risk just waiting to meet the need.
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