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Four Wise Counsel Answers
"I have no church or local friends and am desperate for friends other than my penpals.
I am constantly looking for someone to be my friend, but keep failing. What should I do?”


An answer by Jessica P.
I have definitely been in your shoes! Friends used to be my top priority in life, and then suddenly all my friends were gone. What was I to do? I realized that the only thing I could do was turn to Jesus. Ever since He has been my best friend. That was His purpose in letting me be lonely — to draw me to Him.

I believe that if you learn to be content with Jesus as your friend He will grant you friends here on earth and they will help you grow.

An answer by Emily R.
As a recent subscriber to Hidden Wisdom, I have never before responded to a “Wise Counsel” question. However, your description of your problem so reminds me of my own recent struggles that I decided to answer.

I do not know the specifics of your situation, but please allow me to describe mine. I am fifteen years old and the oldest of ten children (eight living, two in Heaven). Our family’s beliefs have made us somewhat “isolated.” The like-minded families we do know have all boys, or all young children. Over the last few years, I have not been blessed by knowing any like-minded young ladies; and over the last about six months, I have been, as you put it, “desperate for friends.” I have even tried to renew an old friendship with a young lady whose family is not exactly like-minded.

My parents told me that one is blessed to have a couple of really good friends (not just common acquaintance) in a lifetime; and that I am blessed to have brothers and sisters with whom I can be friends, but I am afraid I did not really listen to their advice; and nowhere I looked could I find contentment in this area.

But over the last few weeks I believe the Lord has shown me that He may be withholding this blessing from me for a reason. I believe He is showing me that, while I have searched nearly everywhere else, I have neglected the most obvious place to find true friendship — my home. I have the most wonderful, godly, loving, protecting parents a girl could wish for; and seven brothers and sisters (living). One of my brothers and one sister are also my brother and sister in Christ. In my family I can have the truest and most beautiful of friendships. No other friend on earth could love me as much. Certainly I would not be able to find anyone else who would listen so patiently to my complaints about having no friends!

So my advice to you is to look to your family for the friendship you long for. Not only can your brothers and sisters be your closest friends, but you can have a great influence over them as well, especially if they are younger than you. Friendship among siblings is all the more beautiful, because it is now so rare. If you have no siblings (or even if you do), mother can be your best friend. Her advice and guidance is invaluable. In fact, why not ask her advice on this very subject of friendship?

As a Christian woman, married or single, I will probably spend most of my time in the home. Wouldn’t it be sad if I couldn’t find true friendship there?

Also, have you looked beyond your own age group? There may be an older person in your neighborhood who would love to be your friend. Or perhaps, if you don’t have younger siblings of your own, there may be other young children who can be friends to you. It is a great mistake to think that you can only be friends with people your own age.

Philippians 4:11 says in part, “...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” We should be content, even if we have no friends. I hope this advice helps.

An answer by Sarah G.
When I first read your question, I think my heart must have skipped a beat. You see, like you, I also have no church or local friends around my age, and I never really have. I know what it’s like, in a small way, to be lonely — and I often wish I had friends other than my long distance penpals. So your question touched a familiar chord with me and I have yet to push it’s haunting melody completely from my mind. I thought perhaps I could share a few of my thoughts that might be a help to you, if only a very small one.

Have you ever thought about Abraham in regards to your situation? It was only recently that it dawned on me what a lonely life he and Sarah must have lived; the Almighty called him out of Haran at age 5 and he lived in the empty desert of Israel from that time until his death at 175 (Gen. 12:4, 25:7). Wow! Think of that — 100 years of silence...100 years of loneliness...100 years without fellowship...and even then he died without receiving the promise (Gen. 12:2-3, Heb. 11:13). I’m sure that took a lot of faith.

But Abraham was not the only one. The writer of Hebrews, in speaking of the faithful, describes them as “...being destitude…” (Heb. 11:37). Like the hymn says, “He leads His dear children along; some through the water and some through the fire…” Perhaps you have been one of those chosen to go through the fire of loneliness — one of those counted worthy, in a very small way compared to many, to share the sufferings of our Messiah (1 Pet. 4:13, James 1:2, Rom. 8:18, Phil. 3:10-11). He, too, lived a lonely life (Is. 53:3), and yet He has promised to be with you always (Is. 43:2, Matt. 28:20). Cast all your cares on Him; He cares for you more than anyone else ever can (1 Pet. 5:7).

You said that you “...keep failing.” Try, try again (Prov. 24:16). You are not the only one; thousands have gone this way before you. Think of Christ — He was killed! He had all the potential, all the love, and all the power, and then He was gone. From a human perspective He looked like a failure. But just when everyone was losing hope, a gleam of victory twinkled from the depths of dereliction. A rumor, a touch of hearsay, a tad of news — could it really be? It was true! He had risen. Risen from the depths of despair, the darkest pits of “failure,” to reign forever as everlasting proof of the predominance of Him who is able “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). Who has sunk so low? And yet, who has risen so high? You may be failing now, but “God causes all things to work together for good” (Rom. 8:28).

When you’re looking for a friend it’s so easy to get discouraged, but —

If you’ve tried and have not won,
Never stop for crying;
All that’s good and great is done
Just by patient trying.
Don’t lose hope. The storm comes before the rainbow. After all, in the light of eternity, it won’t really matter if you were surrounded by friends on earth or not. I know it sometimes seems as though the shy, lonely caterpillar will never become the social butterfly that he so long to be — but, if not in this life, you will have plenty of friends in the age to come, not to mention that the closest Friend you’ll ever have will be there! Isn’t that a lot to look forward to?

You asked “What should I do?” That reminds me of a quote by Oswald Chambers: “You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing. God does not reveal to you what He is going to do; He reveals to you who He is.” In other words, you are stuck “between a rock and a hard place.” All you know is that the Almighty God has a plan for you life, a perfect plan in which this struggle plays a part (John 13:7b, 1 Cor. 10:13). You do not know what that plan is, but you do know that you are worth more than a sparrow, whom your heavenly Father never forgets; everything that happens to you is allowed by Him (Matt. 6:26, Luke 12:6-7). Who are you to question His authority (Is. 45:9)? As you suffer this trial, you have no other choice but to lean on Him, and as you do so you come to know Him better and learn to trust Him, thus drawing closer to your Maker as you would probably not be able to do if you had a cluster of friends to lean on and confide in. In your unsureness of what to do, you come to experience the only sure thing in a world of turmoil.

Could it be that this is a lesson for you to learn from your experience? Could it be that it is not your heavenly Father’s will for you to have a church or local friends at this time? Could it be that this experience is a sort of mixed blessing from a Father that loves you; that He has something better for you than friends at this time of your life? That it is your job simply to carry your cross and follow (Luke 14:27, Heb. 12:2)? That in giving up your own desires and longings you may find your greatest happiness?

Amy Carmichael said, “And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father, until it be according unto mine? But no, Lord, no, that never shall be; rather I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine. I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing, I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire. See in my quiet places, wishes thronging — forbid them, Lord; purge, though it be with fire, and work in me to will and do Thy pleasure. Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled, tarry content my well-Beloved’s leisure, at last, at last, even as a weaned child."

But while it’s one thing to trustingly surrender your situation over to the One who holds the world in His hands, it’s entirely another to be truly joyful about it. “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thess. 6:16) is a command, not a suggestion. So learn to live life cheerfully, regardless of your circumstances. Be content in everything (1 Tim. 6:6, John 14:1). After all, if you cannot be happy when you are lonely, how can you rejoice if you are called to die a martyr’s death for Christ’s sake (Matt. 24:9)?

It is easy to be happy
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worthwhile
Is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years —
But the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through the tears.
—Author Unknown
Have you asked for the Almighty’s guidance in looking for a friend (Is. 50:7, 55:8-9)? Have you asked Him to find one for you if it would be His will? If it’s not, are you content to wait (Ps. 27:14)? And in the meantime, are you using this time of isolation to draw closer to the One who bought and redeemed you for Himself with His own precious blood? He is your greatest Friend. “A man of many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24, NAS).

I’ll be praying for you. I hope you find the encouragement for which you long. And do you this time to fellowship with your Savior — you’ll never regret it!

Encouragement from Emily W.
I was reading one of my favorite authors this morning, and saw this. I think it's applicable to the "Wise Counsel'"question posed about loneliness:

Look at the example of friendships. At first God attracts you by pouring His presence out on you. You are eager to pray and to turn away from your selfish comforts and friendships. You give up everyone and everything that does not feel the same as you do. Many people never get past this place. Some get past this to letting God strip them of everything, but get depressed when everything becomes a burden. Far from looking for friends, the friends they used to enjoy now irritate them. Here is agony and despair. Joy cannot be found.

Does this surprise you? God takes everything because you do not know how to love, so do not speak of friendship. The very idea brings tears to your eyes. Everything overcomes you. You do not know what you want. You are moody and cry like a child. You are a mass of swirling emotions which change from moment to moment. Do you find it hard to believe that a strong and high-minded person can be reduced to such a state? To speak of friendship is like speaking of dancing to a sick person.

Wait until the winter is past. You true friends will come back to you. You will no longer love for yourself, but infor God. Before, you were somehow always afraid of losing--no matter how generous you appeared. If you didn't seek wealth or honor, you sought common interest or confidence or understanding.

Take away these comforts and you are pained, hurt, and offended. Doesn't this show who you really love?

When it is God you love in someone, you stand by that person no matter what. If the friendship is broken in the order of God, you are at peace. You may feel a deep pain, for the friendship was a great gift, but it is a calm suffering and free from the cutting grief of a possessive love. God's love sets you free.

Do not waste your suffering. Let suffering accomplish what God wants it to in your life. Never get so hard that you suffer for no reason and for no purpose. Paul says, "God loves a cheerful giver." How much He must love those who cheerfully give themselves to His dealings.

—Francois Fenalon

Don't miss nine more excellent answers to this question,
printed in HW Volume 55!

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