Because I’ve been enduring a time of great need, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friendship, and what it means to give of myself, and receive friendship. This will be a short essay, because what I have to say is simple.
In any human culture, there are uncountable adages about friendship, and what it means to feel and exhibit true friendship. I’m not going to get into all of them here, but you can check out infinitely many here. One of my favorites is Euripides: “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.”
But the book of Proverbs has perhaps the most beautiful, simple, humble summary of what it means to be a true friend. It’s so perfect that I’m only going to include this singular piece of verse in this writing, because it says everything that needs to be said about friendship, and doesn’t leave anything unsaid.
“A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
In these times of “social” media, where casual, long lost acquaintances count as friends, and clicking a thumbs-up or heart-shaped button counts as support, it can be easy to forget what a real friend means. And, when we are isolated from those hollow interactions, it can be easy to feel alone.
Every day since I put down Twitter and Reddit and Facebook, I’ve been reminded of who my true friends are. A friend loves at all times. Good times, hard times, times of need and times of plenty. All times. It’s that simple.
But when we are truly in our hour of most need, those friendships that endure are galvanized. They become a bond unbreakable, and those friends become something akin to the family that we choose. They become our brothers (and sisters!) I believe that even for those who are disbelievers, God is in that love, and strengthens that bond. Friendship is the ultimate example of the Golden Rule that I’ve written so much about. If I love others as I love myself, and I find even one person that feels the same way about me, then that person is my true friend, and my true brother.
This song is secular, but in a way it is not.