Vv 13-14. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
It is very easy to write a letter, or email, to friend expressing good wishes, saying ‘ Of course, God will look after you – He cares about you! He will enable you to do everything in His strength.’ That is a comforting and timeless truth to be sure, but can sometimes come across as a bit glib and remote. A friend with a hand to hold and tears to share can be a practical expression of love and friendship that we need to feel when days are difficult.
Loneliness is one of the issues we have to confront in the C21st. More people than ever are living isolated from the everyday movement of society. Older people confined to home; younger people preoccupied with a tablet or phone; middle-aged stressed by work and keeping their finances afloat; all experience their moments of loneliness. They may have hundreds of likes on Facebook and yet not have a real friend when a crisis erupts. It is loneliness that drives some people to despair and even suicide. To be able to say of somebody – as Paul does here – you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty is heartwarming.
Paul, I guess however, is not writing about the sharing of just material things; there is something deeper here. It is the sharing of oneself, the sitting alongside, listening and responding thoughtfully. It does not happen in a moment; it takes committed time and a readiness to drop other things that may seem important in order to be a friend that cares.
Will you build that kind of friendship with someone in need?