Did Paul and Barnabas ever reconcile? Such a sharp disagreement they had, having ministered together as dear friends for many years previously. It seems Paul would not trust John Mark, yet Barnabas (being a son-of-encouragement) urged Paul to give him a second chance. It created an impasse and neither man was prepared to budge.
It’s like the relationship of intimacy enjoyed for a decade and more that fractures overnight.
It happens. Incredibly… tragically… for both, as well as for those connected to both.
Situations like this, we don’t even realise are possible, until they happen to us. We scarcely believe it would be possible that close friends, even blood-kin at times, could fall out over some individual issue. Overnight we’re grieved by something we never saw coming, and by a truth we’re no longer naïve about. We wake the following day greyer but wiser. And yet something dies inside us; faith in the strength of relationships diminishes. None of us are beyond betraying or being betrayed.
We begin to see relationships as the brittle things they are, obviously so conditional on both parties choosing to love the other.
We begin to see that relationships are contingent on the last minute’s love — like the sportsperson, the relationship is only as strong as the form showed in the ‘last game’.
Like all basic lessons of life, the challenge cast forth toward us is to keep our heart open for the friend who’s become something of an enemy; they ought not be seen that way, but it’s hard. An even more important challenge is to not judge friends who seem to have sided with the other person; that’s hard. The principal challenge is to understand that none of our (theirs or ours) right-fighting is righteousness to God. That we’re both wrong. When we want to see we’re right and they’re wrong, this is hardest.
True hearts hold out hope for the miracle of reconciliation. Both must be contrite, however, to desire and achieve it. Both must acknowledge their hurt and own it, and have empathy for the hurt the other feels, taking responsibility for the hurt they each caused. This requires humility and maturity in both.
It is the best experience of life to reconcile a broken relationship with a loved one or best friend. It takes a big heart to believe for it and hold onto that dream. Such a heart is a beautiful perpetual prayer.