Two instances of loneliness should startle us.
The first instance is seen when our Lord desired human sympathy and friendship from His disciples in the Garden the night He was betrayed. Commenting on this Octavius Winslow in his book The Sympathy of Christ with Man powerfully highlights the need for sympathetic friendship in chapter XI “Christ’s Dependence Upon Human Sympathy.” Winslow points out that Jesus, as truly human, desired the friendship and sympathy of His disciples that night in the Garden. Jesus asked for sympathy from His disciples. The sympathy He desired was for them to watch with him. Jesus wanted their silent presence, to feel they were near to Him. There is a great lesson here. Missionaries under trial need to know brothers and sisters share their sorrows and weakness. Yes, the greatest sympathy is found in Christ, but since our Lord Himself, in His true humanity, sought man’s friendship in His sorrow, so the missionary needs that kind of sympathetic friendship.
The second instance of loneliness is Paul’s testimony in 2 Timothy 4:16, “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!” In the October Banner of Truth Magazine author Gary Brady has an article “Benjamin Beddome on Friendship” (pp. 9-13). Beddome preached a sermon from Proverbs 18:24a “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (NKJV). Here are a few quotes, “To say a man is friendless is to denote a complete state of misery.” What is a good friend? One who is “able and willing to give us advice when we are at a loss how to act, and that without upbraiding our ignorance or despising us for our weakness.” Beddome points out that another quality of true friendship is someone who will smile with us when the world frowns and “stand by us when others forsake us.”
We need to pray that every missionary will have sympathetic friendship. Are you in a position to be a friend like that?
This article is included in the November 2023 publication of RBNet Monthly. If you would like to receive this and other updates through email, please subscribe to our mailing list below.
Gordon Taylor served as the founding Coordinator of the Reformed Baptist Network. He was the pastor of two different churches from 1969-2008.