A Friend

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 ESV).

It’s been almost five years now since 10-year-old Christian Bucks thought his family was moving to Germany for his dad’s job and his mom showed him brochures about his potential new schools. He would be the new kid there; he would be the one without anyone to play with. He was just in first grade then, but he knew what loneliness on the playground looked like. He’d seen it at his own elementary school in York, Pa. But one German school he and his mom looked at had a solution for this. It was called the buddy bench, and if a child was sitting on it alone, it was a signal to the other kids to ask him or her to play. Christian’s family never did move to Germany, but the little boy is credited with introducing buddy benches to America. There are thousands scattered across the country in schools and parks.

They may not be a timeless staple like the chain-link swings or the classic monkey bars, but the buddy bench is certainly a wonderful addition. Think of it in spiritual terms for a moment. While it is no more than a simple wooden seat planted on the edge of the kid-filled chaos, it is a silent summons to be seen instead of overlooked, fortified instead of forgotten, loved instead of lonely. It carries no stigma nor shame; it merely issues an unspoken invitation: Will you join me in my time of need? It’s a question we’ve all asked, isn’t it? Haven’t you asked that question at some point in your life? When the discouragement of life presses us from so many directions and our sadness seems to overwhelm us like a flood, we wonder who will offer us hope, extend to us mercy, or ease our burden. It is then that we must have the “friend” spoken of in our reading today.

Thankfully we do. Thanks to Christ’s accomplished work on the cross, we are all invited to sit next to Him in prayer and find someone who sticks closer than a brother. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV).

Sounds a little like a spiritual “buddy bench” to me! So, the next time there seems to be no one to sit with you in your struggles, turn to Jesus. And, if you happen to look closely, you may see someone who is sitting alone. Go sit with them. You don’t need any answers; you only need to be present. Be that friend!