Look up the word FRIENDS in Proverbs for your reading today.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Once upon a time, life was normal. Until everything toppled. She fell. Or she was pushed. In either case, she was shattered in tiny, jagged pieces. Her friends came along side her.
“How terrible!” They exclaimed.
“Poor thing!” They lamented.
“Just look at all those pieces!” They observed.
“So small and sharp!”
“He did this to you. He is an idiot. A fiend. An antagonist.”
“Time heals all wounds. Just give it time, dear friend.” They advised.
And they stood by her, broken.
There are two types of friends in this world. We see one kind in the book of Job. All alone in the world, afflicted and broken, Job needs his friends. And they come along side and offer… meaningless blather. They try to be helpful, but like the king’s men, they can offer nothing but hollow words and platitudes, and cannot put their friend together again.
We see the other kind of friend in the book of Song of Solomon. The great love story comes to a conflict when the woman is too tired to get out of bed for her man. He walks away. She goes after him, but he is gone. She begs for help finding him, but ends up beaten battered and alone. She cries out, “where is he? Why doesn't he come back?”
And her friends gather around. They don’t tell her he’s an idiot for walking away. They don’t hold her hand and tell her she did nothing wrong, or like Job’s friends insist that she must have. Instead, they gather around her and ask, “What is it you loved about him in the first place? What makes him so special?”
And instead of feeling sorry for herself, she remembers. She remembers what he looked like, how he spoke, the things they did… And her resolve is intensified, strengthened. So much so that by the end of the book, when she has her man back, she says “many waters cannot quench love, many rivers cannot wash it away.” (Song of Solomon 6-7).
When I am confronted with the brokenness of a friend, I feel at a loss. Some of you are re natural encouragers. You open your mouth and pour forth words that strengthen and uplift. Some of us need a little guidance. We all wan to be the friend that helps the King put together the broken pieces, but sometimes it feels as though our hands are tied. The situation seems so hopeless or we just don’t know what to say.
Next time you are in this situation, keep the following in mind.
#1. LISTEN. We want to offer advice, encouragement and communicate our sympathy. There is a time and place for that, but mostly a broken person needs a safe place to vent. Be a safe place.
#2. Never. Ever. Ever take sides to the point you are insulting another party that may be involved. It is soooo tempting to go here. Particularly if one side is clearly in the right and the other is clearly in the wrong. Keep in mind you probably only know one side of the story. Some truth is painful but needs to be shared. Some truth is damaging and better kept quiet. If your friend needs to vent by way of insult, let her. Don’t argue, but don’t agree either. Adding our own negative spin is always a bad idea. If the situation is reconciled, you will either have to go through the reconciliation process as well, or you will have placed a permanent wedge between yourself and your friend. He may be an idiot and a jerk. But if your friend takes him back, are they going to keep someone in their lives who thinks he is an idiot and a jerk? Not if they know what’s good for them.
#3. As a rule, wait until asked to offer advice. There are times wise words need to be spoken, but keep in mind if your friend isn’t ready to hear the council, you are wasting your breath and making your friend uncomfortable. Wait until you are asked or until the Holy Spirit demands.
#4. Offer tangible help. By being a good listener, you will inevitably pick up on some way to actively help your friend. You will notice things that would never have occurred to you if you weren’t listening. Don’t say “let me know if there is anything I can do.” Very few people will actually let you know if there is something you can do. It’s really unfair to put that kind of burden on a broken person. Look for something specific and offer a time and place.
#5 PRAY. This one should hold the first five spots, but in the interest of time, we’ll leave it here. Pray with her, pray for her. Pray specifically and pray often. If you have advice burning a hole in the roof of your mouth, pray that you will have the opportunity to give it and have it well received. If you just can’t think of a single tangible way to help, pray for enlightenment. If you REALLY want to pick on the idiot who walked out on her, pray that God will change both of your hearts for him. Ephesians 5:18 says “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” The verse prior mentions that the Sword of the Spirit is the word of God. “And always keep on praying for all the saints.” That includes your friends. Pray for a specific verse or passage and pray it for your friend.
In the end, only the King can put poor Humpty together again, but I’m He sure wouldn’t mind a hand. Be the kind of friend He can work through instead of around.