What is a true friend? Someone who is always there for us? Someone who never lets us down? Someone who is completely sincere? I think that a true friend is all of these things.
On the one hand, a true friend is someone who doesn’t need to force themselves to be your friend because friendship is about sincerity. But on the other hand, a true friend is someone who doesn’t let you down, and this does require effort – to meet, visit, and stay in touch. Inevitably, since we are only human, we will sometimes let each other down. I know I have felt let down by friends, and I’m sure that I have let my friends down too, and probably in ways that I’m not even aware of.
This can make us feel quite alone, like our friends are not really there for us. But this feeling of aloneness and abandonment is also a gift. All of us, whether we believe in God or not, must at some time face ourselves and feel our aloneness because while we do live together on this earth, we all live within the prism of our own consciousness. And if we do happen to believe in God, in that place of aloneness, we are perhaps even better able to see that God is our True Friend.
So, in what way is God our True Friend? Here are five things I’ve learned: 1. God loves us for who we are. Some friendships are based on ulterior motives. Friendships can be forged for the potential benefits they may yield, and not out of a sincere affection towards one another.
“Worldly friends, seeking their own good, appear to love one the other, whereas the true Friend hath loved and doth love you for your own sakes…”1
2. God will never let us go. Unlike people, who over the years relinquish ties with each other, God will always maintain His tie to us. It is we who have to turn to Him.
“O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.”2
3. God will never let us down. He is the Sustainer of the whole universe Whose bounties are constantly being diffused to us all.
“Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or in the earth but God sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent.”3
4. God will always reply to us. How many times have you called someone or written to them and not received a response? This can feel quite hurtful, especially for those of us who grew up in a world where this was not the norm. Unfortunately, in many fast paces places around the globe, this is now becoming the standard.
“God will answer the prayer of every servant if that prayer is urgent. His mercy is vast, illimitable. He answers the prayers of all His servants. He answers the prayer of this plant. The plant prays potentially, ‘O God! Send me rain!’ God answers the prayer, and the plant grows. God will answer anyone.”4
5. God will always forgive us. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we do let each other down. Sometimes we are too tired or busy to meet our friends’ needs. Other times we fail to meet those needs because we do not understand them and only find out after our friend has been hurt by our lack of attention and care for them. Our friend might hold a grudge against us, but nothing we do can stop God from loving us, and He will even forgive us when we fail to live a noble life.
“Turn unto Him, and fear not because of thy deeds. He, in truth, forgiveth whomsoever He desireth as a bounty on His part; no God is there but Him, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bounteous.”5
What better friend can we ask for? None. Even if any of us have found their “soul mate” in life, whether that be a romantic partner or platonic friend, even this person is no replacement for our True Friend, God. Yes, friendships with one another are important. But I think that the relationship with our Maker is of supreme importance. It is the friendship that sustains our very beings. It is the tie that is indestructible and everlasting.
That said, while God is our True and Ultimate Friend, I believe we still need to nurture our friendships with one another. We have to do our best not to let each other down at the same time as realising that each one of us is going to fail at this, especially in this fast-paced world we live in. We need to strive to be a good friend to others by being loving and loyal, and at the very same time, we need to forgive others when they fail to do this towards us. The best way to ensure that our friendships are pure is to try to see God in our friends for as Baha’u’llah says of the spiritual seeker: “In every face, he seeketh the beauty of the Friend”.6