When God Sends You Friends

Friends Canva

My girlfriends and I sat around the black high-top table in my kitchen, the one with the worn edges and the water marks and the stains from children painting.  Stacks of papers and art supplies unloaded at the end of the school year had been shuffled from the tabletop into precarious piles on the counter nearby.  There were chocolate chip cookies, one for each of us, sweet distractions that tempted us from a clear plastic bag.  The glasses of water were filled to the brim when we gathered and remained mostly untouched when we finally hugged goodbye.

And there was a box of tissues in the middle.

Where we could all reach it.

Because when you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, either nobody cries or everyone does.

That’s just how it is.

This wasn’t the first time someone in the mom squad had called an emergency meeting of the black table.  We had gathered around with cookies and a box of tissues in the middle before.  And, because life is hard, I’m sadly confident that it won’t be the last.  The scarred black table has become an unlikely refuge for the broken and weary.  It’s like a crutch.  We hold one another up there.

I am so grateful for all of the very special friends and families that continue to play an important role in my life’s story.  God intended for people to grow and love and serve and seek help in communities of family and friends.  There’s a beautiful illustration of this kind of relationship in Exodus.  In Exodus 17:11-12, the Israelites were locked in a difficult battle after an attack by the Amalekites.  Moses recognized that God’s blessing on the Israelites was being funneled through him: “when Moses held his hand up . . . Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed” (NASB).

When Moses first realized that the Israelites would triumph as long as his hands were in the air, this probably seemed like an easy task.  Really, how hard could that be?  But over time, Moses’ strength began to wane.  His muscles became tired, and “his hands became heavy.” I imagine that his arms began to shake with the fatigue.  Moses’ burden hadn’t become greater, and the circumstances that he faced had not changed, but, as time passed, the responsibility literally became too heavy for him to handle alone.

How many times have I tried to control a difficult situation that I thought I could manage by myself only to realize that I actually needed some help?

It’s important to remember that God was working through Moses, but Moses wasn’t God.  He was just a guy with tired arms and the heavy burden of securing victory for his people.  Since I am human, and Moses was human, I have to believe that Moses called out to God in his struggle.  That’s what we do.  What would he have asked God to provide?  Maybe Moses asked God to bring the battle to an immediate end so that he could rest.  That seems like a reasonable request.  But that did not happen.  Maybe Moses called to God for physical strength.  That would be logical.  But God did not replenish that, either.

Instead, God sent him friends.

When Moses’ brother, Aaron, and his friend, Hur, saw Moses struggling to hold his hands in the air, “they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it.”  And then there is this beautiful picture of friendship as they held Moses up: “Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other.  Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.”

God saw that Moses was struggling.  And his response was to send him friends.

Sometimes God does not respond to our prayers in the ways that we expect, and as a result we may miss that he actually answered.  When you are praying for specific answers and you do not see those coming to fruition, don’t overlook the friends who show up around your table.  Maybe that community IS your answer.

Moses most likely remained exhausted, both mentally and physically, even after Aaron and Hur took control of the situation.  His arms probably continued to shake and to ache.  His back may have hurt, and that rock probably wasn’t too comfortable.  His friends couldn’t fix all those problems.  However, they stayed with him and they supported him and they held his arms in the air until the battle was won.

They did not give up on him, and they did not leave him before his struggle had ended.

In our “who’s-the-best” culture, it’s worth noting that God didn’t send Moses a “BFF.”  He sent Moses a team.  Friendships are not competitions but rather collaborations where friends look for and fill the gaps within their communities like a family.  And when Aaron and Hur helped Moses, they indirectly helped the larger community as well because the Israelites achieved victory.  Aaron and Hur served Moses, which allowed Moses to serve the Israelites.  One act of service often leads to another and then another, allowing kindness to spread through our communities like an ink drop in water.

My girlfriends and I sat around the black high-top table in my kitchen, the one with the worn edges and the water marks and the stains from children painting.  Stacks of papers and art supplies unloaded at the end of the school year had been shuffled from the tabletop into precarious piles on the counter nearby.

We sat around the table with the worn edges because, just like the table, sometimes our lives have tattered edges and our pasts have scars and our dreams are stained.  Sometimes our present is messy with piles of problems and heaps of heartbreak that seem overwhelming.

But our true friends will not give up on us, and they will not leave us before the struggles have passed.  They can’t fix our problems, but they can hold us up.  God can funnel his love and his comfort through them to provide a response to our needs.  We can gather around the table with them with our chocolate chip cookies, our glasses of water, and our box of tissues strategically placed in the middle.

Where we can all reach it.

Because when you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, either nobody cries or everyone does.

That’s just how it is.

 

4 thoughts on “When God Sends You Friends

  1. Wow! I love this, Mary Ann! I never thought about how God sent “friends” to help Moses in his time of need. I only noticed the struggle Moses was going through. Thanks for giving me new perspective on God’s Word and for continuing to share your gift with the world! Love you, friend!

    Like

  2. What a beautiful illustration of friendships … and our need for and acceptance of friends! We are all blessed by your “friendship” of writing! Thank you, Mary Ann!! And, God bless you with friends for every time and every need!

    Like

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