In the early days of our recent war with Iraq, there was an interesting phrase we seemed to hear quite often on the nightly news; “..soldiers were killed today in what appears to be an act of friendly fire.” The soldiers had been killed by their own troop. This term, “friendly fire,” carries the idea of something that was intentional and yet accidental. But, what adds both meaning and passion to the term is the fact it came from someone you trusted. The horrors of war are many, and death is a sad reality and outcome of war. However, can a parent ever fully find peace knowing it did not come by actions of the enemy?
There are few things that are as hard to swallow as being wounded at the hands of a friend and trusted ally. You are shocked at their actions. Was it accidental? You question their motive. What could they have been thinking? You doubt their love. What did I do to deserve this? You feel betrayed. Were they ever my friend to begin with? It is interesting to note that so many characters of the bible faced friendly fire. The prophet Micah said the days would come when “..a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” Solomon noted in Proverbs, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Zechariah prophesied of Jesus, “And one shall say unto Him, what are these wounds in thine hands? Then He shall answer, those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” It is fair to say, if we will be faithful to serve God, then faithful will come the wounds from friends. As difficult as it may be to remember, friendly fire can carry some powerful significance in our lives.
It serves to perfect God’s work. In II Samuel 22:1, we are told David sang to the Lord “..in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.” Inspite of the fact Saul desired to take David’s life, he still could not bring himself to categorize Saul as an enemy. Saul was someone he looked up too and admired. Saul was someone he loved. How we conduct ourselves in such shocks of life determines the stability of our trust in God and His trust of us. In the heat and battle of friendly fire, emotions surface that either unravel or double-knot the fiber of who we are at heart. Quite often, the needle used to pierce is also laced with the thread of God’s character as He weaves it into our wounded soul. While it is true God desires to build our lives, it is equally true that we must give Him something to work with! A man may be a “man of God,” but not yet be “God’s man.”
It serves to preserve God’s worth. In Numbers 12:1, “..Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses..” They were not born enemies nor even just friends of Moses. They were his own brother and sister! Such treachery and betrayal exceeds even that of Benedict Arnold. At this moment, Israel is approaching the border of the Promise Land, and could it be that the sight of God was being lost in the dark shadows of success? Success can do strange things to our lives. Unlike Jesus during His wilderness temptation, many have jumped from the pinnacle of success, and some became their own god over a kingdom. Such a pain and lesson for Moses was timely in his life to keep a renewed dependence on God.
It serves to perform God’s will. In Luke 22:48, the ultimate in betrayal occurs when Jesus says, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Judas was a hand-picked man in an exclusive group privileged to know Jesus intimately and hear heavenly secrets. He held a coveted and trusted position within the group. Yet, he held a private agenda in his heart. Thinking he was stopping God’s plan, he actually brought it about to perfection. There are seasons in our lives in which the Lord will allow a Judas to dwell in the foxholes of life by our side for the sole purpose of leading us to His perfect will. Kisses of deceit, arrows of gossip, and the noose of misunderstanding will often produce movements that are unnatural for us, but lead to supernatural results in our lives.
As Ahab can attest, stray arrows still find their way into the joints of our armor. Sometimes from the bow of enemies, but sometimes from the bow of friends. To love is to be open. To be open is to be wounded. To be wounded is to be like Jesus.
©2002 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.