I’ve talked a lot about caring, encouraging and praying for your friend. I’ve entreated you to be sensitive, weep with her and be patient as she struggles through questions, fights sin and tries to hold tight onto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
But that’s only one side of loving others. We need to love our friends enough that we can challenge them, helping this experience sanctify them, drawing them closer to Christ. Sometimes we can step into our friend’s shoes and feel so sorry for them that we fall into pity; we excuse the jealousy or the harsh words and let it slide “since they’re having a hard time.”
Saying the difficult thing is NEVER fun. And it can be especially challenging when your friend is already suffering! But we must have faith that God is doing a mighty work in us in this season, even when it feels anything but. Paul says “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6) Jesus has begun the work of sanctification and has definite plans to complete it! How amazing that we can be confident of this!
And so with this confidence, we can speak the truth in love to our friends (Eph 4:15.) If your friend is entangled in sin, the most loving thing you can do is to call her to repentance. Don’t allow bitterness or self pity or doubt to fester in her heart. If you see this in your friend’s life, I beg you to step up and do something about it! Have a bold conversation with your friend; tell her you love her and remind her of the sweet truth of Jesus dying on the cross for her sin.
Know this might be a painful conversation. Your friend may not be immediately receptive and may even be hurt afterwards. But hopefully she will remember you have the absolute best in mind for her. Encourage her to spend time in prayer, digging deep and asking God to reveal what’s really going on in her heart. She will be able to see how tightly she’s been holding on to sin and can repent, asking the Holy Spirit to change her heart.
This “church discipline” should happen constantly through community. A part of loving your friend in infertility is going through the process of fighting doubts, sin and despair. Don’t be surprised when big issues are brought to the surface. We each seem to have a few “default sins” that we keep coming back to. When you’re going through suffering, these familiar sins can magnify and bubble over to the surface in ways like never before. Don’t be surprised when your friend seems to be drowning with monumental thoughts such as “God is punishing me” or “God doesn’t really love me.” Help her pinpoint her sin and plead with her to bring these questions, doubts and issues to the foot of the Cross. Help remind her that Jesus is a man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief and that He cares for her deeply (Isa 53:3). Remind your friend of the intense forgiveness that Jesus achieved for us through his death, that our sins are washed white as snow! She is forgiven and loved.
And know this is just the beginning of this conversation. These same doubts, fears and sins tend to creep back up. Continue to facilitate your friend’s repentance and faith, repentance and faith. Walk through this with her, helping her to FIGHT sin and encouraging her every step of the way.
This is real friendship: encouraging her, praying for her, and weeping with her. But we can’t stop there. We must continue on to speak the truth in love, challenging our friends to walk closer to Jesus in the continual steps of repentance and faith.
-Photo Credit: Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post