When asked for a quote that I try to live by, I’m quick to respond with this Bible verse. As a child, I learned the first part of the verse – “A friend loves at all times” – and thought that was a great thing. When we are young we are taught to be friends, treat each other nicely, to share, and such. All of these things are good ways to live your life.
This verse fit nicely into my childhood ideas of what a friend was/is – someone I can count on, someone who laughs with and not at me, a secret keeper, a companion when causing trouble. I had very few friends growing up that met this criterion.
As an adult – yep, it took me that long to look at the complete verse – I discovered the second part of the verse – “…and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Now that gives an entirely different meaning to the proverb. The first part is much easier than the second part.
What does it mean to be “a brother”? A brother (or sister) is family. Family loves you regardless and is there to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you when times get terrible. The family is where you turn to carry you through, sometimes to provide material needs (shelter, food, etc.), and always to provide moral support.
I know from first-hand experience that sometimes blood relatives fail you. This verse is talking about the person (and usually there is only one or two in your life) that is there regardless. Land in jail – they show up with bond money and a lawyer; so sick you can’t get out of bed – they bring the chicken soup; so sad or happy you have no words – they are the ones that instinctively know the right words (or no words) to get you through.
So how do we find this “brother” for our time of adversity? That isn’t the point of the Proverb. The point is, are you the “brother” for someone else’s adversity? This is the way I try to live my life. More than a fun-loving, trouble making friend but that I’m the “brother” someone can rely on at all times.