Today’s scripture: Proverbs 17:15-21 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Tommy Chittenden):

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (v.17)

Most of us can fondly remember our childhood best friend, a friend with whom we shared our secrets, wrote notes back and forth, had weekend sleep-overs. I certainly do.

Norman was my protector. You see, little Tommy, as I was called until I left Florida to go to college, was in fact, a tall, thin, blonde lad who loved any thing that had to do with water. Every weekend it was my mission to figure out a way to get to the beach to surf, ride buggies over sand dunes, and enjoy clam bakes and singing with guitar-playing friends. Norman was ALWAYS with me. He was the athlete who could play any sport and was good at each one. I rarely missed any games in which he was playing. By default, I was the one who would be there to give him just enough praise for the part he played in a team win and also the one who took the brunt of his frustration when he liked to take personal blame for a loss. We’d go to the boardwalk and play games and eat the kind of food you find at beachfront fast food joints. I loved Norman. While it would be many years before I “came out”, I trusted him explicitly with all things Tommy — including my feelings for boys!

I left Florida in 1970 to go to college in Atlanta, and while I was truly excited about this experience, I had a difficult time leaving my best and closest friend. The last time I ever heard his voice he said to me, “Thank you for always being there for me and for loving me.” A couple months after I left for college, Norman went to Vietnam. He never came home. Today, even now, I still cry for my teenage friend.

Only many years later, would I realize what a gift he was to my life and the part he would play in the path of my journey.

In this Old Testament book filled with great counsel and encouragement, there is amazing wisdom about our relationships with one another. This one verse, coupled with several other Proverbs, points us to the great value of a true friend. In this one verse we are gifted with a classic definition of what it means to be and have a friend.

It is a rather interesting fact of life that friends are oftentimes forged in times of adversity. Difficult times are the proving grounds for true friendship. Untested friendship may be genuine, but tough times reveal their authenticity. A true companion who walks with us through the storms of life and remains loyal is a precious and holy thing — a gift from God. There may be battle scars in a friendship, but they also serve as proof the friendship has been tested and proved.

Proverbs tells us that a “true friend is born for this type of situation.” At times a friend’s role is to encourage and at other times to challenge us, holding up a mirror to our blind spots, holding us accountable. God’s infinite wisdom brought the church into being so we could have a place of refuge and edification with others on their own life journey. But God also understanding the absolute need for his children to be in relationship with others, to come into our lives and love us as we are, in the good and in the bad times.

If your “best friend” is still available to you today, please connect with him or her and express your gratitude for the wonderful gift they have been to you!

Thought for the day: Many will say that they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is really faithful? Proverbs 20:6

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

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