Real Friends

Now and then, especially amid never-ending struggles, we feel that God doesn’t care. When families remain estranged, when sickness doesn’t end, when success always eludes us, we think God is looking the other way. That isn’t true. He has immense compassion for us, and cares not only about our spiritual needs, but also our physical needs. 

Consider the time Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves to feed thousands. “Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.” When he was done, Jesus said to his apostles, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way” (Matthew 15:30,32).

If we feel that Jesus doesn’t care, let us take note of this. He had compassion not only for their physical needs, but he even cared about their need for sustenance. So, the automatic question that often follows is this: If Jesus is genuinely compassionate and cares so much about us, why does he leave us to suffer? Why doesn’t he heal us as he did when he walked upon this earth?

The answer might also be contained in this story and may not be what you expect. The crowds went to Jesus, not all seeking help for themselves, but for their friends! They brought their friends to Jesus, physically carrying them in some cases, and laid them at his feet. There is a beautiful parallel in the story of four men who took their paralyzed friend to Jesus. There was no way to get through the crowds surrounding him, so they climbed up to the roof, made a hole in it, and lowered him through; so determined were they to lay him at Jesus’ feet! (see Mark 2:1-12). 

If we don’t see miracles taking place today, it is perhaps because we have become very selfish people, caring only about ourselves. When is the last time we prayed for somebody for longer than a few minutes, even if that? When was the last time we made a serious effort to take someone to Jesus? Everyone wants a miracle in their life, and who will give it to them but our Lord. And when they see the miracle, they will believe Jesus is who he says he is. 

I am aware these reflections are changing tone, and I suspect it is because my time in the wilderness is ending. I will return to active ministry soon and hope to take people to Jesus again. Some will protest, saying I am not a good person. Like Paul, let me admit, “I am the worst sinner!” (see 1 Timothy 1:15). But I don’t take people to Jesus because I am good; I take them to Jesus because *he* is. I hope you will do the same.

May the Spirit be with you.

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