The Stirring Faith Blog

Sometimes It’s Worth the Risk

risk is required

You may not feel it today, but relationships are worth the risk. Today, we wrap up our 5-day journey into how you and I navigate friendships. Yes, in spite of the pitfalls, relationships are, indeed, worth the risk. Still, risk-taking doesn’t mean indiscriminate bonding. Risk should be cloaked in wisdom (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15–17

Before Paul closes his letter, he informs Timothy of those with him who send their greetings (2 Timothy 4: 21). That seems odd. Where were these individuals in Paul’s dire moments? How does he possess a courageous vulnerability to trust again when so many let him down when he needed them most? We can’t know for sure, but Paul shows he understood some relationships were worth the risk.

He embraces the biblical warning against a haphazard seeking of companionship (Proverbs 13:20). Though he might be lonely, there were a select few on the shortlist worth the risk of disappointment or abandonment. This is oh so important to note. You and I cannot hope to escape all the ills in relating with others, but we can circumvent toxic relationship trauma using discretion when filling our social calendars.

What should we look for in a friend?

Some people leave you better for being with them.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

This is your tribe. Look for those who are reliable (Proverbs 18:24), who are supportive of your joys, and loyal in your defeats. Pursue women who encourage you as a person (Amos 3:3). Yes. There are people like this who will love you.

Be sure to pray about who God will send. And when you find yourself in social settings, get off your phone. Instead, ask questions like, How did you come to be in this group, or What does your family do on X holiday? Ask about a favorite quick recipe or how they survived Covid.

Asking questions of people shows you value them, and it allows you an opportunity to learn more and determine if this is a relationship to pursue. Let this experience embolden your faith to believe God for your good in relating with other people.

The Take Away on Friendship

Building adult friendships requires courage. Just start with what you know by remaining close to Jesus. That hunger for relationship is God’s idea. He is working His plan for your good. There are people out there who need what you offer. Trust God to equip you and aim your efforts toward what endures and then ask Him for the grace to become the friend you need.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

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Aim for What Endures

aim for what endures

We are in the heart of Hey There, Girlfriend: Finding Courage for Friendship. It’s Day 4 and today we are focusing on our aim. You and I can actually point our own actions and responses toward what endures. Think about the relationships you have experienced. You, too, may have bundled up past hurts because of soured sisterhoods. Emotions linger, often wrecking our courage to try again. We wonder why we should strive for friendships only to be hurt and disappointed again.

Paul offers sound counsel for how to navigate this emotional obstacle in his final closing statements to Timothy. Paul gives personal instructions. He notes where people have gone, who has remained, and which people to stay away from. He even requests his cloak (2 Timothy 4:10-15). Woven among these personal details lives the best advice for aiming toward what endures.

“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them,” 2 Timothy 4:16

In the middle of the hurt and disappointment, Paul communicates a tremendous amount of Christ-likeness to be embraced.

What? Where was Luke? Where were his friends? Why on Earth was Paul alone? This is an opportunity to wallow in disappointment and suffering, but Paul does not. Instead, he points Timothy to God’s ability to meet his needs when all humanity fails.

“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth,” 2 Timothy 4:17

Paul wants Timothy, along with the reader, to know people are going to disappoint us in tremendous ways. Sometimes those we think should show up for us will not. They will make choices we would not. It’s possible that those closest to you will be insensitive, acting in ways you find unconscionable. You, too, might experience heartache from good friends or family.

Godly people.

Paul demonstrates to us how to aim toward what endures.

As if sharing wisdom in relationship dealings toward Timothy for the future, Paul writes, may it not be charged against them. In other words, these people are still our friends. It’s going to hurt when it happens, but don’t hold it against them.

Chances are, you and I have let some people down, too. There may have been times we couldn’t be there, or we didn’t see the event as important as they did.

May it not be charged against us.

Courage calls us to aim toward handling our relationships like Paul. Loving when it’s hard –

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity Proverbs 17:17 ESV

Forgiving when it hurts:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV

May we not charge it against them.

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God is For Your Good

for yur good

Day 3 of Hey There, Girlfriend, a 5-day reading plan for finding courage for friendship, is upon us. And Don’t forget, you can also find this plan available on the YouVersion app. Together, we are looking into the Word of God to discern a biblical model for friendship. In today’s reading, we will shine light onto a truth we often forget: God is for your good –even in healing hurts created by those you let in close and giving you reliable and lasting relationships.

I know this one from experience. Years ago, my husband and I packed our family into a moving truck, sold the house, and left no forwarding address. We showed up at the new location with bright smiles in our attempt to leave the pain behind. Inside, we remained battered and bruised emotionally because of deep relational hurts we packed up along with our furniture.

Still, God was working. We found ourselves drawn to a couple at church. She knew everyone, having lived in that town all her life, sporting inner and outer beauty and sophistication. He was a coach, and the understated, but hilarious life of the party. A sweet relationship developed in time, and I have never been more thankful.

After we had been friends for a long time, I found the courage to ask how they had room for us. Our need was obvious. Friendless, broken, and desperate for relationships defined us. Why did they befriend us?

Tears flowed from my put-together friend. She never explained the tears, but I realized they simply needed us at just the time we needed them.

Learning God is For Your Good

Experience has taught me that when I am feeling alone, and need a friend, I am most likely not the only one. God is working in someone’s life who needs a friend as well. This is the juncture at which we find Philippians 4:18 at work.

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Most adults have room for a new friend. We are not alone in our sense of isolation and friendlessness. Rich, true, and loyal friendships require that we believe God is preparing just the right friends for us; people who will like who we are, love us despite it, and even need us because of who we are.

Good and lasting friendships bloom when you and I are “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12).

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:11-12

Therefore, these relationships transcend decades, seasons of life, or favorite pass times. Forget selecting people who are like you, or even your same age. Some of the dearest friends God has ordained for you may be thirty years older than you, or the same number of years younger.

Remember, you are not alone in your loneliness.

Ask God to prepare your future friends as He prepares you to be women who mutually encourage each other’s faith as you experience life together.

Meet you tomorrow for Day 4. (If you would like to go back to the first day, click this link: Day 1.)

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Together is God’s Idea

 

together is god's idea

Welcome to Day 2 of Hey There, Girlfriend, a 5-day reading plan for finding courage for friendship. This plan is also available on the YouVersion app. Together, we are looking into the Word of God to discern a biblical model for friendship. And together is exactly where we land today. Yearning for companionship to share our joys, our passions, our pain, and even the mundane is not something that catches God unaware. Together is His idea.

Alone is where we find ourselves sometimes. It might be because of a job change, relocation, or school. Maybe you’ve experienced loss, suddenly finding yourself drowning in emptiness. You and I can even be alone in a crowd. Just because people are around doesn’t inoculate you from feeling isolated. Yes, alone is a familiar place for many, but alone is not how God intends for us to experience life.

Before sin entered the world, God announces the one thing in all of creation that is not good (Genesis 2:18).

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. Genesis 2:18

We see this need met primarily through marriage, but the effects of loneliness and social isolation span across relationships. Ecclesiastes expounds upon this need by professing two are better than one, and three are even better (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12).

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

The Bible echoes this sentiment by bringing rich examples like Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1), Paul and Timothy (2 timothy 2:3-5), Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:2-12), and Moses and Aaron (Exodus 4), to name a few.

Jonathan and David are another pair highlighted in Scripture. They were unlikely friends. Jonathan should have been hunting David down with more resolve than his father, but there was no hatred and no resentment, only solidarity. Why? While Scripture doesn’t day, it points to a need.

Directly after David defeats Goliath, with nothing more than some rocks and a sling, Jonathan identifies a kindred spirit. These two find common ground in their fervor and love for God, overriding any human dissent.

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 1 Samuel 18:1-4

And when David is running for his life from Saul, Jonathan helps him find strength in the Lord (1 Samuel 23:16-17).

And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. 17And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 1 Samuel 23:16-17

Courageous Faith in Friendship

Both men exhibit courageous faith, one in initiating the relationship, the other in reciprocating it. Sincere love is shared between friends devoted to one another, honoring the other above themselves. This relationship illustrates the friendship God desires for His people (Romans 12:9-10).

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9-10

The Gospel calls us into relationships, even those that seem unlikely. It’s His good plan that you and I experience the joy, the burdens, and the gift of loving beyond ourselves that come from friendships He ordains.

Maybe you need to pray, initiate a phone call, meet up with someone for lunch, or clear your schedule to be available for someone. Today, take one step toward leaving your habits of isolation, trusting God to provide for your needed friendships.

Meet you tomorrow for Day 3. (If you would like to go back to the first day, click this link: Day 1.)

Before you go, make sure you received my FREE gift to you. Get 3 resources to help you experience more of God in your everyday life. It’s filled with practical helps for living out what really matters.

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The Journey Toward Waiting WellConquering Chaos

If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

Times of testing

 

Start with What You Know

Hey there Girlfriend Days 1

Welcome to Day 1 of Hey There, Girlfriend: finding courage for friendship. I’m glad you are here and hope you will stick around for the five days. What I have learned in my adult years is that most of us could use a good friend. Many of us have been hurt by those we brought in close, and some of us have the emotional scars to prove it. Moving out to build relationships calls for risk. We are not even sure how to do it right. And because of all this, it is comforting to know that the Bible speaks to our very needs. The call, in our quest for deeper relationships with other women, is for courage. In Christ is where we will find it. The first step is to start with what you know.

Start with What You Know

Feeling isolated, lonely, or lacking in the friendship department? If so, you are in good company. In fact, the pandemic has only exacerbated the situation. Today, an alarming number of women feel they have no close friends; and if they have them, the relationships feel distant.

There can be many contributing factors causing your loneliness. The toll it takes makes us a more isolated people. Too often, you and I approach friendships in hesitation, timidity, and disappointment, weighed down with hordes of emotional baggage.

Our relationship baggage looms large because, frankly, this is not our first rodeo. We all survived middle school. Fear and experience override our faith. We stop believing God is for our good. You and I cope with our lack by dismissing our need of other people. Emotional walls stand tall for protection. We create insulators, like settling for digital relationships, because we are NOT allowing THAT to happen again. Failed friendships can leave open wounds and gaping holes in our hearts for sundry reasons we cannot fill.

How Starting with What We Know Affects Our Loneliness

Liberating our loneliness calls for a faith that believes God is for our good when all evidence is to the contrary (Psalm 34:8). Not only is He willing to meet our needs (Psalm 46:1), God is trustworthy with us in every circumstance (Deuteronomy 31:8). He also loves us despite ourselves (Romans 5:8), and sticks by our side closer than any human companion (Proverbs 18:24). In Christ, we have the best of intimacy, faithfulness, grace, comfort, and understanding, beyond what we deserve.

He, alone, sees you in your loneliness, your woundedness, and your need (Jeremiah 12:3). Just like the Psalmist, we can express how we feel and ask for His help.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16

Courage for finding and experiencing the friendship for which we long begins with what we may already know. Jesus is the one who gets you. He stands with you when the rest of the world passes you by. Our initial move away from loneliness is to draw closer to Jesus. Believe and trust Him to provide the courage required to try again.

Start with what you know. Jesus knows how to provide for your deficits. You can rely on Him for your wholeness.

Scripture for Day 1: Start with What You Know

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 

Meet you tomorrow for Day 2.

Before you go, make sure you received my FREE gift to you. Get 3 resources to help you experience more of God in your everyday life. It’s filled with practical helps for living out what really matters.

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Don’t miss the BIG REVEAL!

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Cheri’s YouVersion plans have been enjoyed by over 700,000 readers. Did you know Cheri has over TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from? Just click on the images below to check out these other popular plans, available here and on the YouVersion app.

The Journey Toward Waiting WellConquering Chaos

If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

Times of testing