A good friend shared with me a discouraging set back she had a few weeks ago. Another friend endured with her through the muck of it all. As my friend emerged from that hard time and reflected back on it, she wrote the following, which spoke deeply to me.
Struggle, awkwardness, pain, mental games, anguish, frustration, loathing of the process as it cycles repeatedly through your heart and mind. You pray. It won’t go away. You do exactly what you didn’t want to do. More guilt and frustration piles on. Silence. Isolation. Darkness. Defeat.
Someone notices your struggle.
They venture into the unknown to bridge a gap with you. They walk gently and tenderly. Grace and mercy are in their words. They empathize. They affirm. They cautiously but firmly question. They persevere even in your silence.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17
“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7
The clouds begin to break. A glimmer of light shines into the foggy bog. The thaw of mental ice signals a feeling of life. Another force has stepped in to counteract the storm of feelings, thoughts and emotions. You sense more than a glimmer of hope. Someone cares. They stuck by you in the seeming ugliness of your struggle.
I can move forward.
Peace is restored. A thirst for life and vigor begins to develop. Baby steps. Unsureness. A sense of growing confidence. Firm steps.
Full out laughter and enjoyment of life surges through your once desolate being.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
This changed perspective could never be accomplished without those God-sent, blessed, merciful, peace-making iron sharpeners. Thank you Jesus for these people in my life!
I have both needed this kind of merciful peace-maker in my life, and I’ve also had the privilege of being that kind of friend. It blessed me to hear her perspective of what enduring friendship meant to her during that dark walk, because I have been tempted at times to give up on friends when the walk seems to take too long. It encourages me not only to be that kind of friend, the kind that NOTICES struggle and ENDURES in struggle, but it also encourages me to receive that kind of friendship when I am in those dark places, when it seems easier to just shut down.
Indeed, blessed are the merciful, who in turn are a blessing to others.