Do You Rely Too Much on Your Friends?

By Heather Osterstrom Karczewski 

Today I am facing a struggle that straight-up scares me. I am overwhelmed by it . . . preoccupied with it . . . focused on it. My first thought is to call my mom. Or perhaps this situation calls for my pastor. Or my friend “Saint” Amanda will know what to say. Or Jess will pray with me on the phone when she gets home from work. Or . . . . 

I have a really long list of godly friends who will faithfully respond to my fear with sound, biblical words. I am very blessed. 

I do this a lot. When a hurtful text comes, I often call a friend to cry. When lies fill my thoughts, I often call a friend to fret.  

But sometimes I am too reliant upon my godly friends and not reliant enough upon God. 

Please hear this: friends are amazing, vital gifts, crucial to our growth. But friends are not a replacement for Jesus. Conversations with friends cannot replace conversations with Jesus. 

One night, several months ago, I was overcome with grief and heartache and I had been hit by two really painful things at the same time. I was a basket case. 

I called my pastor. No answer. 
I called his wife. No answer. 
I called three different friends. No answer three times. 

Somewhere in the thickness of my emotions, I felt this little tug: 

“Talk to me.” 

“Talk to ME.” 

I had been so sure of the comfort my friends would bring and so doubtful of what Jesus would do. I didn’t really believe He would do anything to meet my immediate need. I didn’t believe the promise HE gave me HIMSELF: 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). 

The truth is, I still struggle to believe it. I definitely struggled that evening all those months ago. And I still struggle today even though He has already provided an overwhelming body of evidence that this promise is perfect – even though that same evening all those months ago when I finally fell to my knees and cried out all my fear and hurt to Him, He showed me exactly what He can do. 

After so many experiences of Jesus bringing comfort and clarity to my frazzled and restless soul, you would think that I would always immediately, excitedly, expectantly run to Him every time I face a struggle. 

You would be wrong. I forget so often. 

I am nothing more than a stiff-necked Israelite who can watch God split a body of water in two and then wonder if I will ever eat again.  

Today, I wanted to take the easy way. I wanted to hear audible words from my flesh-and-blood friends that would give me the strength I need to tackle my struggle with faith instead of fear. God would have completely used my friends to do that. He would have given them the right words to encourage me. And He wouldn’t have been upset or begrudging to work that way.  

But the greater blessing came through the hard way. I decided to press in and get my comfort straight from the Source. He was faithful to provide.  

Please hear this: friends are amazing, vital gifts, crucial to our growth. But friends are not a replacement for Jesus. Conversations with friends cannot replace conversations with Jesus.

My experience today has got me wondering why it matters that I sometimes do things the hard way. Why does it matter to God that I take Him at His Word and trust His promises? Why does it matter to Him HOW I get my comfort and godly, biblical counsel? Why does He push me to go to Him instead of finding what I need from people? 

God is after my heart. He desires abundance for me during this earthly life. He wants to purify and sanctify and refine. He wants me to look more like His Son. He wants me to trust Him. 

A relationship with Him is the only way to accomplish any of that. My relationship with Him reveals my heart. It brings abundance to my life. It purifies and sanctifies and refines me. It allows me to look more like Jesus. It increases my trust in Him. 

Without a relationship, NONE of that happens. And we know that the key to any relationship is communication. It is true for our earthly relationships, but those just imitate the most important relationship we have. It is VITAL to our heavenly relationship.  

I am still facing the same struggle. Going to Jesus with my fear and worry did not eliminate the problem. And He may even lead me to have a helpful conversation with a friend.  

Going to Jesus centered my soul, re-fixed my eyes on Him, brought my faith to the forefront, drew me to Scripture that applied to my concern, increased my faith, matured my faith, and improved my relationship with God. 

It wasn’t the easiest solution, but it was the best. It was challenging because it required me to shut out the world and all its comforting distractions. It required me to acknowledge the ways I was doubting God, to confess, and to repent. It required me to dig in and listen and be patient.  

And I am better for it! I don’t yet have a solution, but I have peace. I don’t see the answer, but I see hope. I don’t feel settled, but I feel sure that God is handling it.  

Our godly friends are wonderful. God has given them to us. We should go to them for comfort, support, reminders, and advice.  

Just not first. First, seek His kingdom. First, go to Jesus. Our knee-jerk reactions reveal our heart condition. Believe that Jesus really will give you rest and a whole lot more if you let Him. 

By Heather Osterstrom Karczewski 

Heather Karczewski, mother of five and former teacher, explores the ways God is working in her life through her writing, particularly through her Facebook page, The Undoing. Her passion is for God’s Word and its ability to transform. She has the honor of sharing this passion as Children’s Ministry Director at Canvas Church, an Open Bible church in Centerton, Arkansas.

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