For a long time I wanted to write something about friendship and friends, about who we think our friends are, and about who truly are our friends.
Nowhere have I seen as much deception and disappointment regarding friends and friendship as here in prison. After many discussions with different prisoners, I found out that almost all of them have reasons to complain about the ones they had considered to be their friends outside of the prison walls.
There are two worlds, the world of free people and the world of prisoners. There are such huge differences between the two that the prisoners compare them with heaven and hell. Heaven is the world of the free, and hell the world of the prisoners. The two worlds are only a step apart, and it is not a big step; on the contrary, it is a very small one. Once the step is taken, the majority of the ones behind the bars realize that nothing of what they knew about friends and friendship is as they thought.
Talking to a prisoner, he mentioned that the friendships made in prison are different than the ones made while free. In prison, the prisoners become your friends because they want to take advantage of you (you have money and you help them some, or you are “cool”; in other words, you are good at using your fist, so they are interested in being your friend). It was he who told me that true friendships are the ones you make when you are free, with trustworthy people.
I couldn’t agree with him, and I couldn’t refrain from asking him, “So, tell me, since you are in prison, how many of your good friends that you had while free came to visit you at least once?” I don’t know why, but I had already intuited his answer.
“Nobody. Only my family comes from time to time, when they have the financial means.”
He thought for a few moments, then tried to take his friends’ side.
“You know, I’m from a village close to Prut. It’s a long way to here, and they don’t really have time, because they have field work…”
His explanations were in vain. He himself realized that he actually never had any true friends, and that most people, whether free or imprisoned, make friends with others simply because they want to take advantage of them.
People try to become friends or somehow establish relationships only with high-up, popular people, people of position, or those with lots of money. These relationships are built only with the mindset of taking advantage of the other, just as I mentioned earlier.
I had around me some people that were close to me – friends – only when I was successful in sports. When I and my family started going through a hard time, those people (the ones I had considered my friends) not only stayed far away from me, but also seemed happy for what I was going through and were speaking badly about me here and there, whenever the opportunity arose. Just like my other mates, I was greatly disappointed by these so-called friends.
The book of Proverbs from the Holy Scriptures tells us in one verse how a friend should be. Here is what the Word of God says: “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” In adversity, a true friend is like a brother. How wonderful is the way God teaches us to relate to our friends that go through a hard time!
I have to admit that even though I always tried to be a good friend to those around me, I wasn’t always very sensitive and didn’t pay much attention to those who went through a hard time. This is one of the things I regret. I’ve gone through hard times and I’m still going through hard times, but by going through such times, God in his great mercy has showed me who my friends truly are. I have learned from the Word of God how I should be a good and trustworthy friend for others.
So, going through hard times, being disappointed time after time by the so-called friends and asking for God’s help and mercy, not only did He bring true friends my way, but He also offered Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God to be my friend. And moreover, He offered some other friends and brothers; brothers in faith, brothers in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today my friends are those people that truly love the Lord Jesus Christ. I was very surprised, and I share this for the glory of God, but there are brothers that traveled hundreds of kilometers to visit and encourage me. They also pray for me and my family. There are some people that do this whom I have never met before. They are my brothers in Christ, and to me they are MORE THAN JUST MERE FRIENDS. Only the Savior can give true value to a friendship. The Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospel of John, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He gave His life so that you and I can have a TRUE FRIEND, a TRUSTWORTHY FRIEND, a FRIEND that never disappoints you. This is the ONLY SON OF GOD, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!