The last days of summer are here and hopefully that means soaking in all the time with friends! Let’s take a trip to the zoo and learn about friendship from an unlikely pair.
A few years ago, a female rhino in a Bangladesh zoo had lost her male companion and was severely depressed, not eating, and with deteriorating health. The zookeepers introduced her to a sheep to keep her company.
Everyone marveled at the oddity of their relationship, wondering if the rhino would eat the sheep, but instead, they became best friends! They didn’t leave each other’s side for five years. The Dhaka Tribune reports,"The sheep could have had a life of her own, but remained steadfastly dedicated to the rhino.”
In the Old Testament book of Ruth, Naomi, like the rhino, had lost her family. In those days, a widow without her male family was destitute. Naomi didn’t want the same thing to happen to her daughter-in-laws Orpah and Ruth, so she urged them to move back to their original families in Moab to try and remarry and have children.
“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me’” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth did not have to stick with Naomi. In fact, it was probably the least popular choice. She had a chance to move back home, marry an attractive guy, and secure a comfortable home and future for herself. Instead, she chose to remain loyal to the friend God had placed in her life so they could help each other.
Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Your friends are not accidentally in your life; they are gifts from God. How are you able to stick by them in happy times and in difficult times? Think about the times you have been helped by your friends, and how much it meant to you.
Jesus demonstrated the stickiest friendship of all by choosing us, and then making the ultimate sacrifice of laying down his life for us:
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:13-16a).
Honestly? Choosing your friend’s needs over your own needs won’t always be popular or convenient, as Jesus demonstrated. But the relationships you invest in will reap rewards that a life of solitude just can’t offer. God designed us to do life together! Ask him how you can serve your friends, and don’t miss out on the joy in this blessing.
Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for choosing us to be your friends, for laying down your life for us, and for giving us the gift of friendship on this earth. Help us not to take the people in our life for granted, but to honor and cherish them with our love, time, and loyalty. Help us to be sticky friends! In your name we pray, Amen.