Imagine this: Your friend is in a bad place. After countless hours of counselling and sharing godly wisdom with them on how they can walk in the opposite direction of further hurt and disappointment, they choose to wander off to places you know will only see more trouble.
How would that make you feel?
CHECK YOUR HEART
I recently became acquainted with this reality after spending time with a friend who was going through a bad time. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, frustrated or worried. We had countless cups of teh, tears were shed and hearts were wrung out to dry over the space of a kopitiam table. This happened many times.
God had given me the grace and strength to walk with this friend through her hurts — but it took a lot of time and effort, both mental and emotional. And what should have been an emotionally draining process naturally, wasn’t for me because I knew I had God’s covering upon me.
I spent hours on my bedroom floor, crying out on my knees asking God to use me to come through for this friend. She still hasn’t come to the realisation that there is Someone who desperately wants to be her Friend and her Comforter. I told God that I yearned for the day and the moment she would know Him.
I reckon this might be how God feels when instead of heeding His shouts of warnings, we stubbornly and blindly choose to walk down our own paths.
In this season, I know God is teaching me how to deal with friends who choose to walk away from seemingly good advice and loving petition that they would steer themselves away from a path of hurt and dysfunction.
I’m comforted by the fact that God has matured me in this process. Truth be told, I had to check my heart with God. Am I upset that she didn’t take my advice? Was I frustrated that my time and effort had seemingly been wasted? To my pleasant surprise, while there was huge potential to make it all about me, I knew that the answer to those questions was “no”.
My heart was heavy because my friend had made a certain decision that would just be another big walk around the issue at hand. I reckon this might be how God feels when instead of heeding His shouts of warnings, we stubbornly and blindly choose to walk down our own paths.
I can’t help but feel sad that my friend’s decisions have somehow postponed her healing process. But in Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” I’m reminded that God will have the last say.
GOD IS STILL GOOD
But through it all, God is so good. Firstly, my friend came to terms with the realities of her struggles and is now open towards resolving them. Secondly, God was still loving and gentle as He taught me an important lesson on knowing when to walk away from a situation my flesh would’ve told me to cling on regardless.
The human reaction — one that is rooted in pride while having good intentions — would demand that I be upset that my friend disregarded perfectly good advice. It would insist that I repeat my words and opinions, and to constantly discuss it until my friend relents and follows what I say.
That is pride; and that is a dangerous attempt at playing god.
Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honour comes humility.” Humility comes first if we want wisdom; humility makes me understand that it is not my wisdom that I am standing upon but my fear of the Lord. That is the very thing that would help me to grapple with the inclination to rely on my own strength when trying to help a friend.
I can never be the person to pull a friend out of a bad situation – only God can.
But I’m learning that while you may purposefully walking away from speaking into a particular situation, you can and should still make yourself available to your friends by loving them with your friendship and with your prayers.
I can never be the person to pull a friend out of a bad situation – only God can. And that reassures me because I am starkly aware of my own human limitations. At the same time, I am also looking at the magnitude of God’s love — this same love that is pursuing this friend of mine, is relentless and I know that in His time, she will come to realise it for herself.
I know that God is not done with her yet.
In the meantime, I will still choose to spend many more hours on my bedroom floor, praying and waiting for the day my friend will come to see the One who has been knocking on her heart’s door all this while.