Read Proverbs 17:17
17 A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity. (NRSV)
Some people claim to have lots and lots of friends. Yet we wonder if true friendship is of necessity limited to a few. We may be confusing acquaintances with friends, or those with whom we are friendly as friends. Real friends may well be rarer than we think.
We could say there are three qualities of a true friend. One is that they confirm us. They affirm our uniqueness, they support us when we doubt ourselves or are tempted to give up on life. They are loyal to us.
Another quality is that they confront us. A real friend will not hesitate to speak an uncomfortable word of warning or rebuke. They will challenge me when I am embarking on a wrong path. Yet they will do it without condemnation: they will urge me to embrace my God-given better self and take the better path.
And then they will celebrate with us. They will rejoice when we rejoice. They will give thanks for us. A friendship purely based on mutual problems is a sadly limited relationship. All we might end up doing in such cases is making each other more miserable.
May we be blessed with at least a few human friendships where these are present. May we also recognise that in our relationship with God we experience confirmation, confrontation, and celebration.
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