Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.
These days everything is throw-away. We love our fast food disposable society. Our cars break down; we buy new ones. Our homes need remodeling; we buy bigger ones. Our relationships sour; we find new “families.” We’ve lost an important sense of investment in life. Rather than invest, we throw out. And we fail to learn many important lessons when we live like this. We also may find ourselves on the short end of the stick when adversity strikes because we won’t have established the kind of relationships and skills that are necessary to persevere through the hard times.
It’s interesting that this proverb talks about “kinsfolk” as being those born to share adversity. There is an importance in family. If not, God wouldn’t have equated the Church with family. In fact, the institution of family isn’t an earthly creation, but rather a heavenly one:
- For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. Ephesians 3:14-15 NRSV
When we relate within a family structure, we are imitating heaven. And when we discard our family in the name of convenience or discord, we are denying the importance that God places on family.
The fact is, family doesn’t come easily. Regardless of relation of blood or legal ties, a family is a group of people with different perspectives who will, at times, be in discord. Sometimes the hurt within family members is so deep as to cause horrible discord. But as believers it is our job to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to look for ways to minister rather than ways to separate.
If kinsfolk are born to share adversity, then not only is our family to be there for us when we are experiencing adversity, but we are to be there for them! And even more so if we are believers and they are not. We live in the power of the Holy Spirit, able to express His fruit in our lives, to reach out to those who are hurting and lonely and angry in a far more able way than those who aren’t saved. How sad that we often leave unbelievers to themselves to try to work out their adversity when we have living within us the One Who can vanquish all hurts, dry all tears.
If we look at this verse in a metaphorical sense, we are born (again) to share the adversity of the family, both our earthly family and our heavenly family. One of the purposes that we are left on this earth is to reach out to those who are hurting around us in the love and power of the Holy Spirit. If we believe that God truly loves us and will care for us, then we are able to shed our own personal concerns and be concerned for those around us. We are born again to share adversity. When we realize our purpose in life, we are more able to focus ourselves where we should, not on our own concerns, but on the concerns of those around us.