What a friend we have in Jesus, all our grief and sins to bear. And what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. This hymn has been around for generations, lifting the hearts and spirits of those in need. Joseph M. Scriven originally wrote it as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother. He published the poem anonymously and didn’t receive full credit until the 1880s. Not only do we have a friend in Jesus, but we also have a friend in God.
Imagine going through a breakup and needing a shoulder to cry on. Who’s the first person you call for support? Your best friend. You know they’ll be there for you to uplift you and remind you that you’re loved and deserve the best. Think of God in the same way; In our times of need, God is there to pick us up and brush us off. He also reminds us that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. If God was your best friend, what would He share with you? What would you share with Him?
The Britannica Encyclopedia defines friendship as a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people. In all cultures, friendships are important relationships throughout a person’s life span. Initially, we only think of God as our Father, Savior, and Provider. It can be hard to see Him as a friend because, traditionally, some friendships are transactional.
However, we can understand what intimate, consistent friendship means when it comes to a best friend. When God called us a friend in John 15:15, He meant that. John 15:15 says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father, I have made known to you. This scripture differentiates between being a servant and being a friend. God guarantees us that as a friend, we will know His plans.
Furthermore, God has encouraged us to do more in our relationship with Him, like confiding in Him about our life plans, listening to His will, casting our cares on Him, and praising Him. Although some may be difficult because of our human errors and fleshly desires, God wants us to experience friendship in this way. On the other hand, He doesn’t want us to be in friendships where we aren’t chosen, loved, or supported.
If God Was Your Best Friend
When you think of a best friend, what does that relationship look like to you? What characteristics does that person have? Typically a best friend is telepathic, empathetic, honest, generous, loyal, funny, and encouraging. The beautiful thing is God is all of these things and more. He knows what we struggle with, empathizes with us, always tells the truth, gives more than we deserve, always sticks by us no matter what, and encourages us.
Similar to your earthly best friend, God will sit with you and listen to all of your problems. He’ll tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear, because that’s what’s best for you. Unfortunately, some earthly friendships don’t last forever. As much as we don’t like them to, some acquaintances only last for a season. The beautiful thing about God being your best friend is that it’s a friendship that will last for eternity. Some people complain about not having many friends, but you’ll always have a friend in God.
What a Friendship With God is Not
As much as you want God to be your best friend, there are some limitations. For example, He’s not the friend you brunch with, even though He’s always with you. Fun activities and doing things are a natural part of friendships, but God cares about the internal intimacy between you. He doesn’t care about superficial things. Lifelong friendships thrive on inner intimacy, not acting by yourself. If your friend values getting up and doing, then the love for your friend will make you respect their values and needs while staying true to yourself. If there’s an issue with that, you should re-evaluate their place in your life or end your friendship. That may sound harsh, but it could be necessary. Like everything else in our lives, we have to steward our friendships well.
No matter what, God should be at the top of your friend list. If you’re in your late 20s or early 30s, you may remember a social network site called MySpace. If you don’t, MySpace was like Facebook before Facebook existed. On MySpace, you could rank your top five friends one through five. In this case, God should always be in the number one position. When you see God as your friend, you’ll open up a new level within your faith and relationship with Him. You start to feel like part of the gang. Not like you’re a god, but you’re part of His team boldly and confidently.
You’ll cherish the new side of God that you’ll experience, which will give you freedom in prayer, Bible study, and worship. As if we were chatting for hours, listening to the same song, and reading each other’s minds, we often experience joy in our genuine friendships. You’ll share that with God, laughing, crying, and taking on the world together. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reminds us, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
God would operate like an earthly best friend if He were your best friend. He would love, support, and always be there for you. If you’re going through troubling times, He will remind you that you are strong and will get through whatever comes your way. However, unlike an earthly best friend, a friendship with God is everlasting. Plus, you can call on Him in the middle of the night. Your earthly best friend may not pick up the phone. If you don’t have a friendship with God, you should consider starting one. You won’t regret it.