God is Closer than Any Friend
As young people, we sometimes feel like no one understands us, and more often than we want to admit, we are wrong. We think that no one else can relate to our experience, all while forgetting the many wise adults who are willing to share their wealth of life experiences with us. Still, I believe that there is some merit to the feeling that others do not fully understand us, and accepting this truth led me to appreciate God more, and it helped me learn how to rightly view human relationships.
Throughout my life, I can remember seeking relationships with people who I believed had personalities, backgrounds, or goals that were similar to mine. I was confident that someone like me would deeply understand me. Quickly, however, I realized that the relationships in which I thought I would find satisfaction ultimately felt shallow.
I was again confronted with this same reality in college. Many of my non-Christian friends shared a cultural background with me. For the most part, we liked the same genres of music, shared a sense of humor, had common life experiences, and liked the same activities. Unfortunately, they did not share my zeal to glorify Jesus Christ, and this difference prevented us from bonding as deeply. At the same time, I faced similar challenges with my church family. Though we shared many theological convictions and worshipped the same God, most people at the churches I attended did not share my cultural background. I knew that the unity that Christ gives His people transcends every culture, ethnicity, socio-economic class, life experience, and these differences are never a reason for separation or conflict. This congregation strongly loved Christ and cared for me, but I still struggled to connect with them since we differed in senses of humor, hobbies, and music tastes, among other things.
One example of a difference between me and my church family would be my appreciation for rap, which is my favorite genre of music. Listening to rap has been one way in which I have sorted through complex emotions, expressed myself, and gained insights from other perspectives. My non-Christian friends could relate to this experience, but when I played music from skilled Gospel rappers for my church friends, it was difficult to get them to appreciate what made the music special to me aside from the biblical truths they rapped about. No one seemed to share my passion for this form of expression. Regardless, I joyfully acknowledged the glorious unity I had with my church family in Christ, but I still yearned to be understood.
Still, God used interactions like these to reveal His deep love for me. Disillusioned and slightly annoyed by human relationships, I distanced myself from people for some time. In my newfound free time, I read and prayed more. As I continued communing with Him, I realized that He is the only one who could ever understand me completely. One of the scriptures that gave me great comfort was Psalm 139 where the David writes:
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. (Psalm 139:16-18)
Before God ever created anything, He knew every life experience I would have, all my heart’s desires, and what would be best for me. God allowed me to feel the yearning to be understood and used it to draw me to Him. Through the Scriptures, I learned that the purpose to which God called me was not to be connected to other humans and understood by them, but to know God and to be known by Him (John 17:3, Gal. 4:5-6). God saved me to bring me to Him as one of His children, and He uses every one of my painful experiences for His glory and my good in Christ (1 Peter 3:18, Romans 8:28).
Meanwhile, God gave me greater joy in my human relationships through an understanding that they are not meant to fulfill me. We are to rejoice in our similarities, love each other through our differences, and give glory to God through it all. In John 13:35, Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” When misunderstandings frustrate my relationships, I can remember God’s perfect understanding of me. When I consider God’s intimate knowledge of me, I am freed to respond to misunderstandings with patience and a peaceful heart. It is not wrong to hope for understanding in human friendships, but we should be content if we never have it. He taught me that I did not need someone who shared my cultural background or life experiences, but that I needed to be satisfied by His knowledge of me.
Though the process was unpleasant, the Lord used the insufficiency of my human relationships to reveal my need for Him and draw me closer. God is the only way to true satisfaction, and in Him I have a joy that eclipses my joy in human relationships.
I hope that from reading this, you are encouraged to pursue the one true God of the Bible as your ultimate source of satisfaction. First, ask yourself if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ by renouncing your sins and crying out to Him for forgiveness. You can enjoy the free gift of salvation by faith alone. All who repent and believe can rest assured that Jesus took the just wrath of God they deserved during His crucifixion. Since He rose from the dead, He will intercede for you before God the Father, and He will send the Holy Spirit to guide you. He will welcome you with perfect love and fulfill you as you submit to Him.