There are two basic qualities required in a friend. The first is illustrated in the following poem:
As Flowers Grow
As flowers grow
Their beauty soothes
The eyes within their reach.
As friendships grow
Our hearts accept
The faults that lie in each.
I remember wondering why one of the smartest fellows in my high school class was such a close friend. I did not feel worthy of his companionship, mostly because he was a straight "A" student. Yet, we visited each other's homes in the summer and spent a lot of time together at school.
Looking back at that unique relationship and analyzing it, I finally concluded that our friendship was based on one major ingredient: acceptance. We accepted each other for who we were-faults included.
This was a major lesson for me and helped me later on in life, including in my marriage. The differences between men and women require an acceptance of each other's faults if they are to get along in wedlock.
"As Flowers Grow" is an expression of this truth. Just as flowers have no choice but to be beautiful-it is their job, they have to be or they stop being flowers … so friendships have no choice but to accept the faults in others or they must stop being friends.
This next poem shows the second quality of a true friend:
The lonely task
Was long and hard;
My joy was at an end.
Had all but won.
Until He sent a friend.
Another major ingredient in the perfect "friend" recipe is your presence. Friends spend time with each other helping and encouraging. It is difficult to be a friend from far away unless you were friends before one of you moved away.
Long distance love relationships are tough, and so are long distance friendships. For a friend to help keep you from quitting during discouraging moments, he needs to be there with you.
Christians find discouragement to be one of Satan's top tools to hinder their service. I have a hard time thinking of a more potent weapon. I am glad I Corinthians 10:13 is still in the Bible. In a nutshell the verse says there is nothing that Satan can tempt us with that we can not handle with God's help.
When everyone sees to be against you because you know you are right; when loneliness threatens to undue your resolve to continue; when circumstances cry out, "Where is God when you need Him?"; know that God has not left you. He is allowing you to be tested that you might grow in Him.
He may just be seeing if you will have the courage to continue to trust Him for your needs. After all, dis-couragement is nothing more than a lack of courage to continue relying on Him. Discouragement is not a symptom but a problem in itself.
It is true that we are blessed by the companionship and caring of others. Their company dispels loneliness and temporary drives discouragement away. And as we grow and learn to handle discouragement better from our experience, we become better able to go on the offensive and learn to encourage others as the acceptance and presence of our friends encourages us.