A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17)
“A brother is born for adversity?” The first thought I had when I read this verse was that brothers are here for the purpose of tormenting us. Those of us who have younger siblings can certainly relate–younger brothers and sisters always seem to know exactly what buttons to push and when to push them. But that’s not what this verse is saying at all; it means that brothers are there to help us during hard times. In other words, our family is support us during the times we need them the most.
Despite the fact that my younger brother has occasionally annoyed me, frustrated me, and just generally tried my patience, I see all the times that he was there for me when I needed him. All the times I noticed him reading his Bible, all of the conversations we’ve had about our Christian lives, and all the times I’ve listened to him give Bible studies have encouraged me to pursue a deeper faith and were sometimes just what I needed to convince me to persevere.
As I think about the hard times my brother and I have gone through together, there isn’t one big one that sticks out in my memory. Instead, all the small things create a big picture of what this verse means. When our family moved and I had to make new friends, he was there. When my dad’s mom died after her battle with cancer, we prayed together. When my aunt and uncle got divorced and two of our cousins moved away, he was right there beside me as we learned to adapt to the changes around us. There wasn’t one certain thing he said or one thing he did that kept me going; just the fact that someone was with me, facing the same struggles and the same obstacles as I was, helped give me the determination to stick it out and look on the bright side.
Of course, my brother wasn’t the only one hurdling those obstacles with me. The more time I spend with my Christian family, the more I realize we’re all in this Christian walk together. We all have our mountains to climb, and it’s encouraging simply to know that we aren’t going at it alone. As Paul said, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Rom. 15:2). There is so much encouragement to be found in our family in Christ. We can look to our Christian brothers and sisters to build us up during hard times, and then we can pass it on when we see someone else struggling.
When I think of some of the hardest times in my life, I realize that my friends and family were always right beside me the entire time. With our Christian family, there is always someone to depend on during the hard times and rejoice with during the good ones. I know I can always count on my brother for someone to lean on during adversity. Col. 1:11 says it best: “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”