A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. – Proverbs 17v17
The Bible says a lot about friendship. It also says a lot about family. It is not often that we see the two addressed so clearly and succinctly in just a few words in one verse.
So what do we see about family and friends here?
Let’s look at family first. ‘A brother is born for adversity.’ Remember that Proverbs is a collection of godly principles and precepts. Because of that we can usually think of exceptions to what we read here in Proverbs. Here is an example of that. Solomon is telling us that families draw together during tough times and crisis. Family is always there when it needs to be. That is not always the case in dysfunctional families (or on Judge Judy) but it is generally something we can all identify with. Even if we are not always in touch we know that family will be there when we need them. Nearly everyone has a family that they can be grateful for in that regard.
Then we have friends. While we are born into our family we choose our friends. No matter what our personalities or preferences our family is family and that is that. Friends are different. There is something about people we meet that draws us to them and them to us and friendships are established and grow.
True friends are just what we read here. Friends love at all times. Friends are always there in thick and thin. They are there in the exciting times and times of boredom. They are there when we are praised and when we are reviled. They are there when we are surrounded by other friends and when we are alone. True friends are always there – they indeed love ‘at all times.’
I think there are a couple of lessons for us here. We ought to be grateful that we have family who we can depend on in times of crisis. We ought to be grateful for the friends who are always close to hand. But I think the best of both worlds is when we work on establishing ties of friendship with family. Those two are not exclusive; they should go hand in hand.
Family as friends and friends as family – what a wonderful world that would be.