In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Frodo doesn’t make it on his own. His journey throughout the story is a long, tough one, and he only succeeds because he shares his journey with the fellowship of the ring: the companions who stand by him, with him, and fight for him. As I read the story, one of these companions quickly became one of my favorite fictional characters: Frodo’s trusty hobbit gardener and best friend, Samwise.
Like Frodo, we all have burdens in our life we can’t carry on our own. That’s when God often places a Samwise in our lives. Sam can represent a variety of people such as a community, co-workers, a church family, and especially, friends. One thing these past months of isolation have reminded me of is that God didn’t create us to live life on our own. God gives us people to fellowship with (pun intended), help, and journey through life with.
Fellowship and Encouragement
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” The Bible makes it clear that encouraging others is a necessity.
Another verse that points out the goodness found in keeping company with fellow Christians is 1 John 1:7, which states, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Not only does God want us to encourage others in him, he commands us to. It pleases and glorifies him!
As believers, we must remember to keep a “what would Jesus do” mindset in everything, even though it might sound cliché. I think it’s especially relevant in discussing friendships.
For example, if you know your friend is feeling down, don’t just tell them you’re sorry they feel that way. Cheer them up and remind them of God’s promises, along with praying for them! Jesus wasn’t a passive friend, so none of us should be one, either.
In one of my favorite scenes of The Lord of the Rings when Frodo is feeling discouraged, Samwise tells him,“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Bearing Each Other’s Burdens
More often than not, we can’t remove the hurt from our friend’s life, and they can’t remove ours. Trials are put in that person’s life for a reason, and it’s all a part of God’s plan. The Lord has graciously given us people in our lives to comfort and help us at times, for “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). If you have a friend going through something hard, I’d suggest three different things:
- Trust in the Lord, dwelling on the fact that his plan is flawless.
- Pray for your friend and for yourself to help them in the way you can.
- Comfort and encourage your friend (as mentioned earlier), reminding them of God’s promises for us.
No matter what situation you may be in, I’m sure you would agree life is hard. Those especially hard times are when I feel extra thankful for the godly friends I’ve been blessed with who are there to back me up.
I love what Sam tells Frodo near the end of The Return of the King: “Come, Mr. Frodo!”…“I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
Being a good friend isn’t always easy. Friendships can be messy, but they’re so worth it!
Something I personally struggle with is being intentional in making friends. As an introvert, introducing myself to someone else or even just building up the courage to talk to someone I don’t talk to very often can be slightly terrifying. A big mistake I often make is feeling like someone else should be the one to approach me. This expectation is certainly not the case! It’s selfish to stand back and hope that someone else will be the one to reach out to you.
Instead of holding these expectations, be the one to take the first step. It might be scary at first, but it will be so rewarding in the end.
Building new friendships is hard. Stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t usually fun or something you want or choose to do. But as a Christian, it’s necessary. Trust in God and fight your fears. Push against passivity. And do this all while pointing others to Christ.
Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Be a friend who sticks closer than a brother or sister, even if it means doing hard things. Even if it means forgiving someone for something you thought of as unforgivable, even if it means missing out, and even if it means not fitting in with the crowd. Show that kind of loyalty, and be that friend.
When Frodo tells Samwise that he’s going to the dark land of Mordor alone, Samwise replies with “Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!”
You’re not a hobbit or on an epic quest to destroy a precious ring, but I think we all can relate to Frodo, and his need for a friend. Another great Proverb says, “the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:9). We can learn a lot from friends whether it’s through encouragement, comforting each other, or simply sharing wisdom.
As a Christian, something to remember is the fact that Jesus will always be the perfect companion. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you can rest assured in the promise he gives us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). In Christ, we have the ultimate friend who will never abandon or let us down, no matter what!
I pray this article inspires you to be a true friend like Samwise. Build each other up, bear each other’s burdens, and take the initiative, but most importantly, keep looking to Christ as the best friend you could ever have!
Editor’s note: Want to read more about the connections between fiction and friendships? Check out the article What Winnie the Pooh Taught Me About Friendship!