We sat around a table at a publishing meeting, the skyline of Nashville shining brightly in the background. After months of planning, dreaming, and preparing, we were ready to decide what our first project would be. We took some time to introduce ourselves to the team that would make our dreams come true, and before we dove into the details, one of the team leaders paused. She shared that protecting our friendships would be essential as we navigated the next few months, because that was where she saw the enemy ready to attack.
I smiled politely and nodded in agreement, but didn’t take her words to heart. In hindsight, knowing we were about to launch into events and projects fully focused on friendship should have given me a reason to lean into her advice. But, I was younger then and thought I knew better. I was at the top of my game, my career was solid, and I was pushing forward in the pursuit of some big goals I had reached much faster than I’d ever anticipated.
A few months later, it all crumbled. The job, the friendships, the community – I lost it all. Not only had I not paid any attention to the wise words of a ministry leader, I allowed my pride to lead the way.
“And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.” —1 Peter 5:6-7
I chose to exalt myself, choosing my own timeline over God’s “due time.” My soul wasn’t prepared to carry the weight of what I was building as I cared more about my future than loving well those God had put in my life. The next verses in the section of Scripture tell us:
“Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him belongs the power forever. Amen.” —1 Peter 5:8-11
The enemy may be on the prowl, but he will not win. With Jesus as our firm foundation, our Friend who will never fail us, leave us, or refuse to forgive us, we can stand firm in our faith. We can rise back up when we stumble, we can cling to the cross when our hearts are hurt, and we can keep loving, forgiving, and committing to being present in our communities because God will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
As you spend time with God today, ask Him to reveal where you have not fully humbled yourself to His will. Where are you trying to push things forward in your own timing, with your own plans? Where are you striving to be exalted instead of exalting the One who deserves all our worship and praise? Where have you tried to fill a God-sized hole in your heart with an imperfectly shaped earthly friendship?
Jesus is our ultimate best friend. We love because He first loved us, we forgive because He first forgave us. He humbled Himself in the manger and on the cross, for us. No matter how many trials you’re facing or how alone you feel, you are so perfectly loved by Jesus – the best friend you could have.
Week 6 Challenge:
Paul commanded the Romans to show eagerness in honoring one another (Rom 12:10). This week, go out of your way to honor three friends. Do so in such a way that it does not bring you any recognition, but only honors and encourages your friends.
Week 6 Reading Plan
Week 6 Memory Verse
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