My heart pounded, and my breathing came in rapid shallow bursts. At any moment I expected someone to come around the corner pointing a gun in my direction. My partner stayed close, and we rapidly made our way from room to room looking for the gunman. We soon found him, the training exercise came to end, and we gladly returned the nerf guns we used for the exercise.
I recently attended that training conducted by our local police department. They demonstrated techniques used in doing building searches. The class provided an eye-opening peak into the world our law enforcement officers face on a regular basis. One thing that stood out clearly throughout the exercise-cover your partner’s back.
The scenario reminded me of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
These verses remind us of the importance of having friends to encourage, assist and correct us. We all face trials. The Bible makes it clear we are not exempt from them, but God will be with us through them.
The source of trials often comes from one of three main things: the enemy of our souls, natural forces, or our own sin and mistakes. God “covers our back” as we navigate life’s trails. He often utilizes trustworthy friends to walk alongside us through these challenges.
If our trial results from a direct attack of the enemy, friends encourage us to stay strong in the fight. They pray for us and reminds us of the promises from God’s Word. A beautiful example of this is found in Exodus 17:12. In this chapter the Israelites were fighting the enemy. When Moses stood on the mountain and held up his staff, the Israelites would prevail. But when Moses' arms grew tired and he let down his staff, the army floundered. “But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” We all need those kinds of friends in our lives.
Other times challenges arrive due to natural events. When Hurricane Harvey hit our area several years ago, friends offered their home as shelter when our neighborhood was placed under a mandatory evacuation order. Thankfully the flood waters didn’t top the levy protecting our home and our house was spared, but the kindness of those friends sustained us during those stressful days.
And then there are times when we mess up. We either sin through disobedience to God or we make a mistake. Either way, consequences result. A trustworthy friend stays by our side. They prove more reliable than a fair-weather friend who leaves when trouble arrives. A true friend stays, corrects us in a loving way, and helps us overcome the troubles we face. Proverbs 18:24 describes this kind of friend, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
I encourage each of us to build godly friendships, but not for our benefit only. As the verse from Proverbs shows, we must also be that good friend who helps in time of trouble. We may be the very vessel God uses to encourage someone going through a difficult trial.