If we were a Bible character; our life, men had read.
From the pages of Scripture, just what would be said?
If God were writing our profile today,
To record in His Word; just what would it say?
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.” II Timothy 4:10
I would say the majority of those who are familiar with the name “Demas” are also familiar with the few words that follow his name – “For Demas hath forsaken me…” The fact that the apostle mentions Demas forsaking him is evidence, I believe, of the hurt it had caused. Paul was in a deep valley. Paul was suffering persecution. Paul needed the comfort of his friends. What did Demas do? Demas forsook him.
In a recent Bible time, Anna shared from II Corinthians 7 where we read of another trying time in the life of Paul:
“For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.” II Corinthians 7:5
Have you ever felt as Paul described in the above verse? No rest – Troubled on every side – Fightings without – Fears within. Do any of those phrases hit too close to home? Are there circumstances of your own that come to your mind at this very moment? I like what the next verse says…
Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;” II Corinthians 7:6
Praise the Lord for friends like Titus! As the above verse says, God comforts those that are cast down, and one way He does is through friends. I am not speaking of “gossiping friends”. Too often, the presence of those whom we may consider friends actually leave us feeling more miserable by all the “supposings”, “what ifs”, “if onlys”, and other vain imaginations. The friends I am speaking of are “praying friends”, “listening quietly friends”, “keeping it to themselves friends”, “offering comforting words from Scripture friends”. Those type of friends know that prayer can give grace, having a listening ear without fear can allow for a releasing of emotions, Scripture can give comfort. Those types of friends are rare. Those types of friends are with you through thick and thin.
Thinking about both of these friends of Paul, as well as reading the following verses this morning, has caused me to think about true friends.
“Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.” Psalm 107:41,42
“Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.” Psalm 142:7
In both of these passages, the Psalmist is speaking of being delivered from affliction. In both passages, he specifically mentions who is rejoicing with him – the righteous. Why are the righteous rejoicing? I believe, as in the case with Paul and Titus, the righteous are rejoicing now because they were there with him through the time of affliction. The Bible says in Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Righteous friends bear the burdens of their hurting friends. In Romans 12:15 we are commanded, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Righteous friends are not just there in the good times. Righteous friends are not fair weather friends as in the example of Demas. Righteous friends, like Titus, stick with us through thick and thin. When the storms are raging high in our lives, they are there to pray, listen, and offer words of hope from Scripture. Then, when morning comes (and it does come!), those same righteous friends are right there with us in sincere rejoicing because our burden…our affliction…had actually become theirs too!
While writing this post today, I was reminded of the times that I have fallen short in this area of being a true friend. As a result, I missed out on the opportunity to be a blessing to a hurting individual. But, I also missed out on the sincere rejoicing with that individual when their morning finally came. Their burden had not become mine therefore I was not able to truly appreciate their time of rejoicing.
I pray that these thoughts will be a blessing as well as a challenge to each of us…that we would allow the Lord to continue to “grow us” in this area of true friendship. There are many, many hurting people in this world. In our relationships, when God allows us to see one who is hurting, instead of taking the fair-weather-friend route of Demas…let’s set our own comfort aside and allow that person’s burden to become ours as well. As in Titus, may it be our desire for God to use US to comfort those that are cast down!
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
~ Rachel ~