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by Mariali @ DaySpring April 12, 2016
Have you ever felt lonely? Maybe you had just moved to a new city or started a new job and you wondered where you would find friends. Or perhaps you had a different dilemma– you experienced betrayal from a close friend, which sent you into self-preservation mode and made you want to keep people at arm’s length?
Most of us have experienced either one or both of these scenarios in life. During these challenging times, I’d always wonder why Jesus placed such importance on relationships with others if it was so difficult. I’d ask myself, ‘Did He ever experience loneliness? Did He understand that I had been wronged and back-stabbed?’
The tension between wanting to have close friendships and not wanting to get too close to people to avoid being hurt seemed to play over and over in my life. But I realized that neither of these scenarios painted the picture of the plan God has for friendships in Scripture. As Solomon reflects on life, he states, “Then I turned to re-examine something else that is pointless on earth: …someone who is alone.” Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 (ISV). Hmmm…so being alone is pointless? He goes on to say, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
I was in trouble…I realized that the times I felt lonely or wanted to keep people at arm’s length were both times I was trying to be in control of my life. I wasn’t truly trusting the Lord to provide for my need of friendship. I was either wallowing in self-pity or putting up walls around my heart. But God established friendship to be an expression of love and joy and reflect God’s heart for us. I was both unwilling to let God flow through me and to receive from Him.
When we allow God to bless us with the gift of friendship, we realize we weren’t designed to walk alone; we were designed to walk in relationship with one another. As people created in the image of God, we can experience the heart of God through friendships when we give love as well as when we allow ourselves to receive love. The most important part of friendships is to allow them to be opportunities through which we express the heart of God (forgiveness, patience, kindness, joy, etc.).
So Solomon was right…being alone is pointless. We limit ourselves from experiencing the heart of God when we don’t embrace friendships around us. But in order to experience that, we have to be willing to take risks and let people in. We must realize that we will have joyful days and we will have challenging days in this life, but when we do life together we grow in our faith as we experience God’s love through friendship.
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB