Still, it hurts. Sure, we are told to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and that’s natural. We love the brethren (1 John 3:14). When they are rejoicing, we naturally rejoice with them. When they are hurting, we naturally hurt with them. I’m sure that’s part of my pain as I watch this hurting family. I think, though, there’s another level of hurt here.
The reason for this became clearer to me the other day as I was reading The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. This book was born out of a conference by the same name. Each chapter was written by a different conference speaker and deals with a different aspect of this topic. The following is from a chapter by John Piper on “Joy and the Supremacy of Christ.”
Recall the distinction C.S. Lewis made between the love of romance and the love of friendship. “Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.” In other words, in romance, two sit across from each other and tell each other how much they like about each other. In friendship, they don’t face each other but stand shoulder to shoulder, facing a common challenge or a shared beauty or a great God.
For Lewis – and I think this is close to the biblical understanding of friendship – the greater the shared vision and the shared joy in that vision, the deeper the friendship.
This really resonated with me. I think that loss of camaraderie explains some of the sadness and emptiness I have felt in the past months as I have watched my friend struggle. When we see something lovely, hear a great song, or learn something new, we naturally want to share it. We want to turn to the person beside us and say, “LOOK!” Somehow it enhances our joy for others to share in our admiration. Quite honestly, that’s one reason why I blog: to share my joy over learning new things about God and to have that joy increased when my dear blog readers nod their virtual heads in agreement and add their “Amen!”
Piper goes on to say:
The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8, “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Friendship hangs on believing the same gospel. The main joy of God-glorifying friendship is joy in a common vision of God.
Thus, godly friendships not only exalt Christ and honor God but they also increase our joy. So thank you, my joy-increasing blog readers! And thank you for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me and marveling at our awesome God.