When You Long for Friends: A Meditation for Elders’ Wives
Editor’s note: The follow is an excerpt from Megan Hill’s book Partners in the Gospel: 50 Meditations for Pastors’ and Elders’ Wives. We happily commend it to you.
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“Do your best to come to me soon.” (2 Tim. 4:9)
The apostle Paul was no wimp. He defended the faith before kings (see Acts 26), wrote much of the New Testament, planted numerous churches, suffered extended imprisonment, and endured beatings and shipwrecks (see 2 Cor. 11:25). We’d describe him as intelligent, persistent, and hardy. Since he had that kind of character, it might be tempting for us to think of him as someone who didn’t really need other people and who certainly didn’t need friends.
But we would be wrong.
Repeatedly in Scripture, the Apostle Paul expresses a longing to be with various saints in the churches (see, for instance, 1 Cor. 16:7; Phil. 2:23–24; 1 Thess. 2:17). He earnestly prayed that God would permit him to be physically present with his friends (see Rom. 1:9–15), and he encouraged church members to cultivate affectionate relationships with one another (see, for instance, Rom. 16:16). As today’s verse demonstrates, Timothy was Paul’s particular friend, and Paul especially wanted to see him. In some of his last recorded words, Paul writes to Timothy, “Do your best to come to me soon” (2 Tim. 4:9) and then, just a few verses later, “Do your best to come before winter” (v. 21).
Life in ministry can sometimes leave us feeling friendless. You may be in a church with people who already seem to have plenty of friends—or with whom you have little in common. The role you fill as an elder’s wife might make people reluctant to befriend you—or eager to befriend you for the wrong reasons. Difficult circumstances within the church may have even cost you friends.
In 2 Timothy 4, we read that Paul’s friends abandoned him when he needed them most: “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me” (v. 16). His response to this sad situation stands as an example and an encouragement to us. First, he writes, “May it not be charged against them!” (v. 16). Contrary to what we might expect, Paul covers the sins of his negligent friends with love. By the help of the Spirit, can we do the same for people who fail us? Second, Paul testifies to the hope of lonely Christians everywhere: “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me” (v. 17). When you are alone, when you are longing for friends and finding none, the Lord is near. The One who was a friend to Abraham (see James 2:23) and to Paul will be your friend, too.
In your time as an elder’s wife, you will doubtless experience times of loneliness. You can take encouragement from the example of Paul that a desire for friends is a good desire. What’s more, as Paul did, you can humbly ask God to give you good friends while trusting him to be your dearest friend.
What aspects of being an elder’s wife make it difficult for you to form and sustain friendships? Are any of these obstacles things that you can intentionally work around? What opportunities do you have as an elder’s wife to befriend people whom you wouldn’t otherwise know?
Thank the Lord for good friends he has given you at various times in your life. Ask him to show you people in your church and community whom you could befriend. Ask him to draw near to you and comfort you in your loneliness.
Identify a woman who is in ministry and likely has little opportunity for friendship—perhaps someone who is on the foreign mission field or is laboring alongside her husband in a new church plant. Reach out to that woman in friendship. Ask her how you can pray for her, and commit to checking in with her periodically.