It was her tone of voice more than her words which caught my attention and kept me from changing the channel as I’d intended to do. She was professionally serious while simultaneously excited to reveal to us, the TV audience, this cutting edge news, the revelations and results of a recent study. What could it be? I wondered, during the commercial break. The newsperson had implied it was good news. A cure for cancer, perhaps? The pathway to world peace? Must be something new and revolutionary that will change my life and the lives of others for the better forever going forward.
The commercials seemed to last longer than usual as I waited, filled with hope, to receive the good news of this new study which would potentially positively impact my life. And then the newscaster was back, and the study results were revealed. The study’s findings? Friendship or friends benefit one’s health. Yes, that’s what this scientific, groundbreaking study was all about – friendship. Researchers found that having friends is good for your health! Results of the study suggested friends are just as important as eating right and exercising are to one’s overall good health.
Shocker, right? Never in my continual pursuit of good health and taking care of myself, (body, mind and spirit) would I have associated having good friends with positive health outcomes. Based on my own real life experiences and those of people I know, I would never have arrived at this conclusion on my own or even suspected that this could be the case. I definitely needed someone or ones to spend my hard earned tax dollars on a study to discover this revolutionary new truth for me. (ok, remember hyperbole and sarcasm are tools in the writer’s toolbox which beg to be used from time to time – I couldn’t resist)
I have to wonder how the design of this study was set up. Was there a control group? Was there a group of individuals with no friends? How was “friend” defined in this study? I mean we have acquaintances, “frenemies”, – then there’s the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Or is “friend” determined by length of time known? frequency of interaction? Do online “friends” that you have never met count? or only face to face friends? Is there an optimum number of friends one must have for best health results? Can one have too many friends, become overloaded, and experience negative health outcomes as a result? Inquiring minds want to know these things.
As a result of this study, will doctors now prescribe “Make two new friends and call me if symptoms (depression, loneliness, anxiety, high blood pressure etc.) persist? Making true friends is definitely more difficult and time consuming and requires more effort than taking some pills. Connecting with others can be a laborious process that requires the courage to let yourself be seen and known by another human being. (post – “islands & icebergs” – Nov. 21,2017) But are the results of this study really new, surprising, not previously known information? I think not. The Bible’s been around for a while and within its pages I have access to information that’s been available to us for millennium. In proverbs I read,
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) Then I read,
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Seems like the idea of friends being good for us, for our well-being and overall health, is not a newly discovered fact but something we instinctively know and actually experience for ourselves in our everyday lives. And if we doubt our own real life experiences, our belief in the benefits of friendships is confirmed in God’s living Word. We don’t need a human, government funded study to reveal to us a truth that we already know because it is self-evident. I read these confirming words –
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)
Another translation says, “sharpens the countenance of his friend.” I wonder if that means “lifts the spirits of” because countenance refers to how we are feeling which is reflected in our faces or countenances? Friends are certainly one of God’s good gifts to us, one of His best gifts. And even better, God has reconciled us to Himself, making you and I His friends in the same way that He referred to Abraham as His friend. (talk about having friends in high places)
“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:23) In Isaiah God said,
“But you, O Israel, My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham My friend,” (Isaiah 41:8)
Not only was Abraham God’s friend, but as followers of Jesus, we know what Jesus told His disciples –
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15:15-16)
I also have this assurance that God is my friend – Jesus said,
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:13-14)
Jesus laid down His life for you and for me and He calls us friends! Jesus left us with this instruction –
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
We were created for relationship with our Creator and for relationship with each other. Our Heavenly Father does not intend that we should live our lives isolated and alone. In fact, He tells me to –
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) and He tells me –
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
I need to be connected to other people in order to do these things that my Heavenly Father asks me to do. God’s word has been telling me all along how vital friends are to my wellbeing. I’m surprised scientists of today are just now beginning to figure that out. Or maybe they are not yet convinced and there will be further “friend studies” to verify if in fact friends are or are not beneficial to one’s health. Maybe they are holding off on making friends until the research is conclusive?
I, however, am thankful to God for each and every friend He sends into my life – each person is a treasured gift from God. Therefore, I will heed these words, rather than waiting on the next scientific study to be done.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
That’s what friends do – they encourage us, we encourage each other. A friend lets us know we are not alone – we are seen and we are heard. A friend shares our load, a friend laughs with us and cries with us. Friends truly are gifts from God. Lord, may I receive and treasure each one!
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
sincerely, Grace Day
2 thoughts on “new discovery – old truth?”
I really loved this blog! I love the humor that you inserted into it. It cracks me up that scientists are just now figuring out, as you pointed out, what God’s word has told us for years and years. I am so thankful to count you as one of my most cherished friends.💝💝💝
I am grateful to know we are friends in life and in the Lord! What an eternal gift you are to me! ❤️🙌