Saturday, February 7, 2015

Holding One Another's Hands: Strength in Friendship During Struggles

My heart ached as I hung up the phone. My friend's tear-filled pleas still filled my ears.

She was in an impossible situation and her world as she knew it was rocked. I felt helpless for her. I wanted more than anything to make it all okay, to fix it.

But I couldn't.

This problem was far beyond me. It was far beyond a long chat over coffee with some laughs and prayers acting as a bandaid. 

After I hung up, my own eyes filled with tears. I prayed out loud to the Lord to help her, to guide her, and to let her know He was with her. 

It still felt like such a miniscule contribution. 

I checked in wth my friend several times throughout the day over the course of the next couple of weeks. I listened intently to every update and every new development in her situation. I intervened continuously with prayers and asked other, close friends to do the same. 

For a hot second, I felt like what I was doing wasn't enough and even considered contacting a third party involved to help bring the situation to closure. I realized that wasn't a good idea and put the kabosh on that line of  thinking. 

All the while, my heart continued to ache. I watched as my friend suffered and struggled. 

And there was nothing I could do.

I sent her pins and scripture to encourage her and to bolster her confidence, to remind her that she is a child of the King and that He is walking before her and will fight this battle. 

With each pin I'd send, I'd shake my head at the seeming futility of it all. Here she was-- my friend-- watching her life systematically fall apart around her and I was sending a cleverly-worded graphic, hoping to mend her broken heart. 

It wasn't until I read a section in Genesis that the Lord put on my heart my part in my friend's situation.

Genesis chapter 17 talks about The Israelites (God's chosen people, led by Moses) fighting the Amalekites. God told Moses to hold his staff in both hands and hold his hands in the air. As long as Moses did that, the Israelites would be victorious.
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. (Genesis 17:11-13)
What a beautiful picture of support and friendship. I see two metaphors that fit my situation in this selection.

My friend is Moses in this situation 

Moses was key in the Israelites' success. While Joshua was on the field fighting the battle with the sword, Moses was an integral part since every time he lowered his hands the Israelites began losing. My friend is the key component in her own situation. It's up to her to keep her hands raised (in prayer and praise in her case) and allow God to do the actual fighting on "the field". My part in that? I am Aaron and Hur, holding her hands up and offering her a stone to sit on as she grows weary. As badly as I may want to fix it or take on more responsibility than I should, her part in this battle is clear and I am a support to that position. 

Moses had grown tired, no doubt, from both the physical responsibility of holding his hands in the air, but also possibly from the emotional toll it took on him to realize his grave responsibility. Perhaps Aaron and Hur offered to hold the staff for a while and Moses may have longed to take them up on their offer, but he realized this was his task alone. 

My friend is Joshua and I am Moses in this situation

Another view of this same scenario could be that my friend is Joshua. She is on the frontlines of this battle, wielding the sword while I play a key, but peripheral role. As she is slaying the enemy, I am on the sideline, supporting her the only way I can: By holding my hands in the air--praying, interceding on her behalf, and offering her my visible support and encouragement, I am doing my part. Enlisting others (Aaron and Hur) to pray along with me (hold up my hands) is also something I can do. 

The Isaraelites' victory relied on three facets of the battle: Joshua on the frontlines, Moses being obedient to God and holding up his staff, and Aaron and Hur offering support to Moses in doing so. Ultimately, the battle was the Lord's but those individuals all had a part to play. 

Do you have a friend who's hurting? Do you want to take the pain away and fix the problem for them? I understand. But I am realizing that God allows us all to go through storms so that we learn 1) to rely on Him and only Him for strength and victory, 2) To enlist the help of close, Godly friends to support us through prayer and their presence, and 3) To refine us and strengthen our faith. 

I pray that I will be the kind of friends Aaron and Hur were. I pray for the diligence and dedication to the Lord that Moses had and I pray for the courage that Joshua had on the frontines of battle. 
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