No doubt you have heard the expression “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” The origins of this idiom is unclear, and seems to date back centuries, such as ancient writers Ennius, “A sure friend is known in unsure times,” and Euripides, “It is in trouble’s hour that the good must clearly show their friendship; though prosperity by itself in every case finds friends.” But why is a friend in need truly a friend? One suggestion is to emphasise or phrase it this way, “A friend, in need, is a friend indeed (or even 'in deed'),” meaning that when we are in need, those who help us or continue to be a friend to us, are truly our friends.
The Bible puts it this way, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17) Jesus Himself showed us the greatest example by His obedient death on the cross, in His own words, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13)
When was the last time you had a friend in need? How did you react or respond? How far are we willing to help or love our friends, at our convenience, or at a sacrificial, personal cost? Would we be willing to “lay down our lives” for our friends?
Amongst our circles of friends, think about those who seem to be needy. Are we often irritated or try our best to avoid or shun such people? Here, we are not talking about the stranger on the street, or even the neighbours around us. Among your friends, are there those that you tend to distance yourself from, particularly because they always seem to need help or attention? In this day and age, perhaps it seems easier because all we have to do is unfriend or unfollow someone on social media, or block or mute them on our messaging apps or devices.
How can we be better friends to those in need around us? Let me suggest some practical ways. Firstly, pray for your friends. Commit some time each day or week to intercede to God for them. Even when they hurt you or take advantage of you, God's word reminds us to even love our enemies and pray for them, perhaps in this case, our “frienemies”. Secondly, be concerned about their lives. Don't just turn to your friends when you yourself are in need, but take an interest in what's happening in their lives, the goods and the bads. As we understand more of what they are going through, perhaps God will open a way in which you can be a better friend to them. Lastly, be there for them. Presence is more important and valuable in life than presents. When they need a shoulder to cry on, when they need an extra dose of encouragement and support, when they celebrate their victories, through the highs and lows of life, where will you be? By their side, being a friend, or busy with your own life, or other pursuits or things? Don't wait until your friends are gone, to regret not being a better friend. With God as your source of love and strength, ask Him to make you a better friend today.