Pro. 17:17 - "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
As the oldest of 7 siblings, and 1 of 6 brothers, this verse has been a rich source of joking and comfort through the years. When we were all younger, whenever this verse was read we would tease each other, "Yep, my friends are always there for me, and all of you are an endless source of adversity!"
There was a grain of truth in that statement. Just ask any of my brothers and I'm sure all of them could relate an instance or two where I antagonized them. (Like the infamous morning when a friend and I tied one of my brothers to a tree to use him for target practice with our suction-cup dart guns, then we went inside to "tease" him about leaving him there, but actually forgot about him until mom got home.)
However, as we grew up our understanding of Pro. 17:17 matured. It began to mirror the thought in the CEV translation. "A friend is always a friend, and relatives are to share our troubles." From this perspective, the brother is not the cause of the adversity, but the one who stands shoulder to shoulder with you when adversity strikes. It has been a blessing to experience the truth of that firsthand.
As we apply the Proverb, what we should see is Christian siblings rising up to care for each other when adversity strikes. We could talk about meeting physical needs, and the privilege a local church family has to care for those who belong. But today I can't help but think about the spiritual and emotional needs we all have have when adversity strikes; in those trying moments when our faith is being refined and when "light momentary afflictions" seem heavy and endless (2 Cor. 4:17). According to the Proverb, it is precisely for moments like these that God in his wisdom gave us family. It is precisely for these moments that God has provided us with a spiritual family, to remind us who we are, who we belong to, what we have to look forward to and the fact that we are not alone.
Praise God for siblings, both physical and spiritual, who rise up when we need them most!