Thursday, May 9, 2013

Friend in the Thick?

Over the years the Lord has really used situations in my own life to change my perspective on others trials and times in the valleys. I know I have in no way arrived and can I be quite honest, I am a pretty selfish person. But, I have begged God especially over the last 2 years to give me a greater heart filled to the brim with His compassion.
Ever been through an incredibly painful trial and come through it stricken with hurt from friend’s lack of compassion, stupid comments, hurtful gestures, and just plain insensitivity? I was reminded about some of the things the Lord taught me in the deepest of valleys to get me to run to Him and ask Him to fix my perspective and reach out to others when they are hurting and when I am hurting. Over the years I have seen some pretty amazing friends stick with me through the good times and the bad times. It is these friends that the Lord has used all too often to rebuke me of my sin and encourage me to walk humbly before our Almighty God. If your friends do not do this for you, then might I challenge you to find some that will?!
The Lord used a sweet single friend to get me to my knees on Monday morning. I was really struggling with some things and I kept running to God’s Word and seemingly kept hitting a brick wall. {Ever have those kind of Bible study days?} It was moments later that this sweet friend contacted me and simply said, “Are you ok? I am praying for you! I am looking forward to seeing eventually how God works all things out for His good.” The best part of this encouragement was I knew she was going through a tough time, and instead of focusing on her trials she quickly encouraged me in mine.
After her sweet text I flipped back to my journal  from a few years back of things I had jotted down as I studied God’s Word and faced situations. These things God gave me helped me greatly through those tough times and the times He would continue to give me. You know as well as I that the trials can be painful and long, but the end results are awesome if we stay upright and walk in His Word.
So here are some of the things that  helped me…
When you are hurting…Run to God’s Word! Don’t run to anyone else until you have thrown your burdens at the feet of the cross. You know the Lord has a plan through each of these tests and He simply wants you to trust in Him despite the pain, rejection, and disappointments that other people bring.
When you are hurting….Encourage someone else! Take the focus off your “problem” so to speak, and redirect your thoughts to loving someone else who is hurting.
When you are hurting…Make someone else a meal! I know this seems like a stupid piece of advice. But, can I say that there were many times that this helped me to focus my day on serving someone else instead of wallowing in self pity or crying from the hurt. It is so much fun to brighten someone else's day and adding a hot meal to their table for no reason at all can be a huge blessing.
When you are hurting…Seek godly encouragement! Don’t run to the friends who will only tell you what you want to hear. Instead run to those who will listen and then at the right time direct you to the truths and promises of God’s Word.
When you are hurting…Learn!!! This is probably one of the biggest things that God has taught me. I learned through tough times how not to treat and how to treat someone who was hurting. I have NOT arrived and I often have to be reminded by the Lord to be careful how I respond, react, and communicate to those who are hurting.
Those are just a few of the things I jotted down from that angle. But, let’s look at the other side.
When your friend is hurting…LISTEN!! Can I say that this is huge? There are many times that the hurting know what God’s Word says, they desire to do as He wants, and yet sometimes (especially if a woman) they just want to weep and let out the feelings to someone who will listen first and then direct with careful encouragement to run to God’s Word. All too often, I believe we Christians use other peoples trials as stomping ground to preach at them or to slaughter their name or their status on facebook. Ever had that happen? Ever done it yourself/ intentionally or not? You know those statuses where your friend says she needs prayer because she is going through a tough time. Are you quick to jump all over her for “complaining” instead of just letting her know you love her and are praying for her. Do you really know her heart via a facebook status? I don’t know about you, but the friends I have on facebook I have found to be my prayer warriors and encouragers more often than anyone else. I am not saying that we should post something negative every single day, but are you guilty of not listening?
When your friend is hurting…PRAY for them! Do you say you’ll pray and then not follow through? I am guilty of that myself and God is continually growing me in this regard. Make a prayer list for facebook friends, for church friends, etc. Pray, dear friends! We all desperately need it!
When your friend is hurting…DO NOT CONDEMN! Why is it that we “Christians” are so quick to pull each other apart and say that the trial that friend is going through is a result of sin. Really? Are you God? I am disgusted at myself for thinking this at times toward situations. We are to bear one another’s burdens, not throw rocks on the situation only bruising that sweet sister or brother in Christ even more.
When your friend is hurting…DO NOT IGNORE THEM! Ever been through the ringer of  a trial and feel like your friends are dropping like flies or seem to just be avoiding you? Ever heard the reason….”I didn’t know what to say?” Uggh, this phrase I believe is probably my most hated phrase ever (: I totally have been in a situation where a friend of mine was hurting and despite the fact that I had no clue what to say, God reminded me that she needed me just as I so often have needed my friends. She just needed me to be there for her, she just needed a hug occasionally, she just needed a note saying I loved her and was praying for her, she just needed me to remain her friend. Sweet friends, stop using the crutch of “not knowing what to say” to make someone’s trial to be even more difficult. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything at all! Amidst a HUGE trial I had 1 friend come to me and say, “I have no idea what pain, emotions, and all else you are going through. I cannot understand it, nor do I expect to ever understand. BUT, I want you to know that I am here for ya and love you!” It was this friend that has come to my aid more often than anyone else. I believe it is because she recognized that she has no clue how it feels, but she isn’t gonna let the uncertainties of her words or actions stand in the way of being a true, godly friend.
These were just a few of the things I had jotted down 2 years ago. Maybe one day I will share more, but I know of several friends right now who are in the valley of disappointments, loneliness, infertility, singleness, changes in ministry, uncertainties, miscarriages, unfaithful spouses, physical situations, cancer, and many more situations of testing. I pray that some of these truths that help me will help you whether you are facing a test of your own or whether you are trying to minister to someone else going through their own test.
Remember that God sends these testings to develop us and increase our faith in Him. Don’t focus on the crisis you are in now, but focus on Christ and how He desires to use you through the test He currently has you within. My godly momma gave me this book last week and I am loving it!! If you are facing any trial this will encourage you so much. “It is a dare to Live Fully right where you are!” Get it! You will not regret it a bit.IMG_1551
Jeremiah 29:11~For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.