True friends are some of life’s greatest treasures. True friends are like solar eclipses. They don’t happen very often, and you have to be in the right place at the right time to experience them. But when committed friendship is experienced, as with a solar eclipse, our perception of everything around us changes.
Often, I have heard the lament, “I don’t have many friends.” If we are talking about the kind of friend who cheerfully commits to helping at the most inconvenient times in the most sacrificial ways, nobody has “many” of those. A person may have two or three, but most will do well to have one true friend. The confusion comes from how we use the word “friend.” We use the word “love” for desserts and for our children. Same word, but entirely different experience.
True friends are resilient. Solomon described it this way, “At all times, the friend loves.” (Prov.17:17 my translation) The Hebrew has the definite article “the” attached to the word “friend.” Not “a” friend, but “the at all times” friend is an experience worth the investment.
What kind of investment produces such friendship? They tend to start with a natural connection point. Without commonality, there is no meaningful connection. But that is only the starting point. Time and effort invested, mostly in combined efforts toward valued causes, is the fertile soil from which true friends spring. Trial by fire tempers the most solid relationships. Only a few friends turn out to be “the friend” that loves at all times. The hits are worth all the misses.