Friday 7 May
Home     Pastoral Support

When friends fail

It is impossible to go through life without being hurt by somebody. We are all broken people who have been brought up by broken people and live among broken people. Broken trust is hard to bear. A promise broken. A shared secret passed on. A close relationship goes cold and distant.

The final days of the life of Jesus is a catalogue of failed friendships as one person after another lets him down. Are there clues for us in his responses? His prayer for Peter who will deny him. His offer of the bread to Judas who will betray him. His words of forgiveness on the Cross, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

At one level they knew very well, but at another level they had no idea what they were doing. That could be said of every failed friendship - the repercussions are deeper than “they” know. It is like taking a hammer to a block of ice and watching the cracks spread in random directions.

Ultimately the key lies in the willingness to forgive those who have failed us. Otherwise we become the victims of our own bitterness. One writer describes forgiveness as “giving up hope of a better past” and “a gift to yourself and your future.” That is not an easy way to live, but Jesus tells us to make it a life stance rather than an occasional act.

It might help to sit at the Cross and imagine the forgiving words of Jesus being spoken over you. Imagine a circle of light around you and others you know. Where is the person who has failed you so badly? Perhaps they are out in the dark shadows beyond the light of forgiveness. As you sit there, invite them into the circle of light, and let the forgiving love of Jesus flow to you, to them, and then through you to them.

The hurt will not disappear at once, but you will be set free to walk with your heart lighter and you head high.

Words of comfort

Luke 17:3-4

​So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Romans 12:14-21

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, ” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Psalm 41:9-13

Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me.
But you, O LORD, have mercy on me;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
In my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.



The ring in the bottom of my jewellery box – memory of a dear friend,

now distanced by time and space, life choices and priorities.
Bitter words, memories of disagreements,
broken promises lie between us like an overgrown battlefield,
yet still dangerous ground for all who trespass.

Lord God, forgive us when not gentleness but temper ruled
and we took part in damaging battles, which destroyed rather than built up,
which made us fight for our benefit rather than the interest of the other
and both our joy in your presence.
Bless my friend and bless me with your forgiving and strengthening love
that we might walk in faith, though separately but close to you.