I was having coffee with a friend the other day, who has been going through a difficult time. I listened as she shared her heart with me. In no way did she have a “woe is me attitude”, in fact, if anything, I witnessed just the opposite. She was very positive about her situation, not because of the difficulties, but because she was sure Jesus was with her in the midst of them.
She told me the story of how she was taking the trash out to the dumpster. The bag was very full and too heavy for her to handle alone. But alone she was. She struggled to get it out the door, down the steps, and into the yard, where she would then make her final decent to the trash bin at the end of her driveway. Just as she was man handling the bag down the steps, a friend of hers stopped by. Her friend, seeing the struggle, quickly jumped out of her car and offered assistance, but my friend responded with a polite, “oh no, it’s okay. I can get it.” Ignoring my friend’s politeness, the visiting friend ran to her aid, lifted one end of the trash bag, and together they easily placed the bag into the dumpster. When finished, my friend commented about how light the bag had become when her friend stepped in and helped her lift it. She said, “it wasn’t heavy at all”! Her friend replied with the same basic answer, “the bag wasn’t even heavy”.
As my friend related this story to me I immediately thought of Moses. Exodus 17 tells us how Moses held his hands up in the air so the children of Israel could see him and follow. But his arms soon grew tired. In verse twelve it says, “But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”
First, notice that his friends “took a stone and put it under him.” This could not have been a small pebble like stone. It had to have been a rock that was big enough for Moses to sit on. Psalm 89:26 says, “Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation”. When his friends saw him in distress, they immediately “set him on the Rock!”
Secondly, after seating him on the Rock, they held his arms up for him because he was too tired to do it himself. A good Christian friend should never stand aside and watch you flop around like a fish out of water. Upon seeing you in distress, they should immediately “set you on the Rock” and “hold up your arms” for you until you regain strength from the Lord to walk with Him on your own again.
It is important to note here that I am not talking about a friend who is co-dependent and rushes in to fix everything for you. I am talking about a well-balanced Christian friend who hears the voice of God and obeys him, regarding His actions and His timing.
Thirdly, note that Aaron and Hur did not hold Moses’ hands up for the entire forty year trip through the desert. They were there when they were needed, and they “backed off” when they should have. They gave Moses plenty of time to walk with God on his own without interference. There are times when we are called to go through things “on our own”, just us and God. Many times the Lord uses these times as “faith builders” and “strengthening exercises” to mature us. We need to know how to “find our own Rock” (Him) and get ourselves seated on it. This is the ultimate and perfect place. We may not always have our friends around when we need them. But we know that our God said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
In the process of learning how to rely on and trust God, we often find that we do need our Christian friends. You know, there are two sections to the cross. First, there is the vertical piece, the relationship between you and the Father. This must be firmly grounded, otherwise, it can not hold the next vital piece, the horizontal piece, which is our relationship with our Christian brethren. Likewise, we can not just have the horizontal piece. It can not stay up. It has to have the vertical piece so it doesn’t fall.
I find Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 confirming and reassuring: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”