Today, I want to intentionally think on friends who have stood by our sides in seasons which stretch us. When our life circumstances take a downward turn, or when we find ourselves misunderstood or misrepresented, or when we drop from the heights and are plunged into a foul, soupy marsh, or when we recognize that we have zero ability to clarify people’s thoughts about who we are, or to repel their words against us… it is extremely helpful to look into our corner and see someone there who isn’t about to walk away. The value of a loyal friend who will get down in that marsh with us and remain there by our sides is not to be undervalued. God gives us a lot of good things along life’s pathway. A constant friend or two sits high atop the list.
“Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.” – 1 Kings 18:3-4
So, Obadiah (a different man from the prophet who has a book of the bible named after him) stood out when the spokesmen for Israel’s God were being exterminated. Jezebel and Ahab are among the most despicable people in all the bible. During this season of their wretched testimonies, they were slaughtering the prophets of God. Bounties were on the heads of faithful preachers. Elijah was alive at this time and he had been made the most-wanted man in Israel. The enemy was working to extinguish the truth from the land, and the prophets were being hunted down like animals. In this dark and dangerous scene, a man named Obadiah puts his life on the line for them. We are not given much detail, but we know that Obadiah used whatever resources he had, risked his own neck, and found a way to safely shelter 100 prophets. He took care of them. He made sure they were fed. He bore the stigma of being associated with the hated ones. He did not play it safe when he made the commitment to associate himself with the very people that the nation had turned against. While I long to know more about this man of steadfast courage, I do feel great admiration for the few bible verses assigned to him. From these verses, we find that he understood the risk, worked through his fears and stood in the gap between the hunted and those seeking them as prey.
As this year is about a third of the way finished, take a moment to reflect on who has been in your corner. Who stood by your side? Who was it that refused to walk away at the peak of your weakest moments? You likely do not have dozens of people who will sit in the storms with you. But I bet you have one or two. Did your reputation get pinned with a bullseye? Perhaps the bottom dropped out from under you financially; maybe you experienced rejection, divorce, betrayal or abandonment. I have learned over the years that when a dozen walk out, God usually raises up your own Obadiah to rush into you to stand beside you. These people are heroes in our lives who remain basically unknown to others. The year 2015 was my own year of Jezebel & Ahab’s hunt (so were 2010-2014 if I am being honest, but on a lesser scale than 2015). Yet, 2016 was the year of Obadiah for me. The years since then have required fewer Obadiah’s for me, because much of the intense relational conflict which hounded me for years is now gone. While I am sure that many others would have come alongside me had they known my need which arose in previous years, there were a handful sent by God who intentionally provided relational shelter and safety for me. I will never forget them, and I intend to honor them as long as they remain available to be honored.
There are some people out there being hounded and hunted by troubles in life. Go get into their cave with them. Do not allow them to repeat the testimony of King David who once said, “No man cares for my soul.” Let’s not allow for a repeat performance of that time when the Apostle Paul declared, “Nobody stood with me.” Jesus once watched a multitude walk away from Him one afternoon. He asked those who may have still been on the fence, “Will you also be leaving Me?” Peter spoke for the group and declared that they intended to remain by His side. We cannot deny that there are seasons wherein the strongest of Christians wrestle through the possibility of being hung out to dry by those who leave them in the hour of their trouble. They should never have to acknowledge that they have been made to stand alone. Someone should remain at their side. Sometimes that someone is you. sometimes that someone is the one God sends to stand next to you until the winds calm and the waves cease. We all eventually need an Obadiah. We all eventually need to be an Obadiah to someone else.
It is amazing what God will do with one faithful friend who is willing to take the sting of being associated with someone in their hour of trouble. If you have a friend like that, reach out to them soon and thank them. Even more than that, be more aware that there are people around you who need a friend like that.
Be that friend.
You may be the hinge on which God swings open the rest of their story.