“This was the ancient friendship of Christians, uniting and cementing their hearts, not by worldly considerations or human passions, but by the mutual communication of the spiritual blessings, by prayers and thanksgivings to God for one another…[and] when the same spirit of intercession is again in the world…this holy friendship will again be in fashion, Christians will again be the wonder of the world for that exceeding love which they bear to one another.” ---William Law, c. 1899
We prayed together out loud the whole ride back.
My best friend and I. We had ridden to a friend’s house for a celebratory dinner, but I was simultaneously going through what felt like another one of the hardest things ever. We took turns speaking truth from God’s Word out loud and calling out to Him with raw emotion and real anguish.
The atmosphere was heavy as I cried and she cried out. The special part about that car ride was that this was not the first time we had been with one another through something sudden and painful and extremely difficult. So we knew what to do---we’d been here before. Our hearts beat and ache for one another often, but are never as in sync as when one of us is hurt or hurting.
I read a quote once that said something along the lines of, “we are all walking one another Home.” That struck me. Because it’s so true. If you’re a Christian, every time you are surrounded by other Christians, you are on the Path towards our eternal Home---and getting to do parts of the Path together should be one of our greatest joys.
So what do you do when your friend’s life turns upside down? Or yours does? When you’re looking at one another through bloodshot, tear-filled eyes going, “It isn’t supposed to be this way!”?
What do you do with sudden change? Or long, miserable, prolonged change? Disappointment? Heartache? Illness? Trauma?
Tried and true, these are the top four things for dealing with hard times together.
1) Pray---It sounds cliché. But it’s not. It’s VITAL.
Pray. Out loud. In private. Out loud. In public. Silently in private. Silently in public. We must not stop praying. Not only will it make all the difference in the world, it’s also a matter of obedience. Over and over again in Scripture we are encouraged to pray for one another, believers, enemies, family, friends, neighbors, leaders, enemies…did I mention enemies? So pray. Write them down, text them, save them, email them, whatever it takes. Don’t stop praying.
2) Stay filled---You can’t give something you don’t have.
When your loved ones are going through hell, one of the best things you can do for them is stay healthy yourself. If they’re mad at God, questioning His goodness and kindness, for you to be soaked in His Word and be full of the Holy Spirit is going to make all the difference in the world. So soak soak soak in His provision in the past and be thankful, choose courage, and stay filled up with hope…because your friend may need to borrow some at any moment.
3) Show up--- Be sensitive. But just show up.
This one seems tricky, because people respond to difficulties so differently. But here’s one thing we’ve learned: we need each other. You need your people. My pastor said Sunday, “Church doesn’t save you, but Christ does use His Church to help sustain you.” Amen. If you’re not part of a local body of believers, you’re not going to make it very far. These are the people that will show up for one another: you’ll end up being the giver and/or recipient of baskets of sunshine, perfectly-timed bouquets of flowers or cards, seemingly-out-of-the-blue coffee dates, meals, and super-sacrificial displays of love---like your house getting cleaned for you before a major event. It’ll be awkward at times. You’ll want to run away at others. But it will blow your mind and strengthen your heart. So pay attention to how you can intentionally love on your people. Trust me, life is so much better done in community---you won’t survive without it.
That night in the car as I poured out alllll my frustration and hurt and anger and confusion, my friend didn’t necessarily respond with advice every time a new part of the conversation presented itself. She didn’t suggest things too much. I needed to know I wasn’t alone or going crazy. She affirmed me, but also just listened. She asked some questions. She helped me sort through the laundry of my soul and categorize emotions, shake out some wrinkles, and throw out some ratty beliefs I’d held on to for too long. There was so much kindness there. Because she simply listened. She spoke truth, but was very sensitive to the fact that I needed to just verbally work through what was happening.
Guess what? We got through that next “hardest” thing. The car ride ended in tearful goodbyes and me knowing that somehow, even though this was not how it was supposed to be in my mind, it was all being held and lovingly filtered through God’s kind hands. Who knows what conclusion I would have come to that night if I hadn’t had my friend there to pray with, for, and over me in that situation.
You’re a good friend. And your people need you. And if you’re a believer, they need the love of Jesus inside you that you take with you wherever you go. So. Pray often and out loud, stay filled with truth from God’s Word, show up, and listen. It will be a wonder to the world.
Lydia Holland is one of the loveliest people you will ever meet. She loves to serve at her home church, Hebron Baptist in Dacula and constantly has a smile on her face. Her joy is JESUS. She loves reading and is a rock star event planner. She is also the Director of the National League of Junior Cotillions for the Hamilton Mill Chapter.