When the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, during his final imprisonment before being put to death, many of his close companions deserted him. They were afraid of being associated with him now that he was in jail, and many believed that his suffering was proof that he was not a true man of faith and power.
There in prison, with many on the run, one man was different. His name was Onesiphorus. Instead of running he traveled to Rome, to the hometown of Nero the great hater of Christianity, and began to search for Paul. Being from Ephesus, he was unfamiliar with Rome, and had to stop and ask for help constantly. But after much diligent searching and prayer he found his friend in need. What a tremendous encouragement that was to Paul.
Paul writes about this in 2 Timothy 1:15-18 – 15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
What a great thing to have some real, Christian friendships. Do you have any today? People who will suffer inconvenience to help you in your time of need? How do you know who your friends really are? Just go through a rough spot. Go through an embarrassing moment, a trial, a season of suffering and see who comes to help you. You don’t need a ton of friends like that, but you do need two or three. As we’re just starting out in 2009, what a great goal to try and cultivate two or three meaningful Christian friendships.
Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.