Learn, through Job, what kind of friend you will be

Grace and friendship; two concepts which cross my mind these days. Wheat harvest is finished. Most necessary fieldwork, tillage, spraying weeds, etc., is completed, giving opportunity to focus on other tasks. Though rarely less important, changing priorities refreshes the mind and renews the spirit, inviting me to think beyond my world of agriculture.

Friendship: I have long been a fan of the book of Job in scripture. In it, Job experiences everything life has to offer, from the pinnacle of success and reward of watching his family grow and prosper, and then dealing with absolute loss of family and livelihood, all within a matter of hours. Plus, a plague of boils has covered his entire body, festering with puss emitting a putrid stench, and relief is nowhere to be found.

Job’s three friends appear to be the only remaining constant in his life, or so it seems. When they heard about the disaster which came upon him, they came and sat down with him and made an attempt to provide empathy and comfort.

In the ensuing conversation, his friends are looking for someone to blame. Job is responsible, and they are trying to convince him of it. And if he is not, how dare he think he is innocent and God is connected with this calamity!

They do not know the rest of the story as it plays out in the heavens, between God and Satan. Finally, Job rejects their notion, and at the end of the story, it is Job who saves them from certain death and utter destruction, by interceding with God on their behalf.

In Proverbs 18:24, the author writes, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

This is the kind of friend everyone needs. We are social beings. It is in our DNA. We long for interaction, verbal affirmation and acceptance. We crave the camaraderie and fellowship of other human beings.

There are basically two kinds of friends, as described within the story of Job. One kind is narcissistic and uses associations for personal gain. This individual may be well meaning, but cares little about the relationship and places little value beyond what one gains by the friendship. It is a shirt-sleeved, on again, off again, “what can you do for me, I’ve no time to listen or care” association.

The other finds worth in the individual and is interested in making time to interact and actually care about another his/her welfare. It may even require an investment in time or resources, a sacrifice, if you will, to insure the friend’s welfare.

Recently, a friend reflected on a person’s communicated desire for a simple, friendly and meaningful conversation which was more than, “Hi, how are you?” He commented, I think he needs a friend. Opportunity knocks when one is looking.

Which bring me to the other topic of grace; each day, this word is in my heart and mind. Gracie, our twin granddaughter, provides me with ample opportunity to think about her and the meaning of her name.

Though she and Lucia share many wonderful identical qualities, including this trait, Grace exudes much compassion, love and caring for others. She is the first to express them as she cannot do anything less than who she is. If I need cheering up, she is the first on the scene and provides the opportunity to see good in everything. She is the last one to linger and hold on tight when saying “Goodbye.”

We as a human race, desperately need constant reminders of God’s goodness, grace and mercy. Deeply broken in mind, spirit and body, we desire to know we are loved, accepted and worthy. It may seem hard to move us into action, but there is hope.

Finding our way to God is a simple step in faith. Though we find ourselves in the middle of difficult circumstances, often due to choices we made, we are loved beyond our comprehension. As a contemporary gospel song says, “He loves me anyway!” That’s grace!

Finally, these two concepts of friendship and discovering the amazing grace of God work hand-in-hand. Becoming a friend to someone who needs affirmation and recognition of their worth can be the instrument whereby they discover God’s grace, forgiveness and love.