Digging deeper into grace: 11/16/2016

What does it take to get through the tough times in life without falling apart? What does it take to be able to restore hope when life has left you discouraged?

One of the things we need during the difficult times of our lives is a good friend.

Interestingly, the first negative thing recorded in the Bible is that it was bad for Adam to be alone. God created people for relationships. God made us with the capacity to improve each other’s lives and with a need for each other for our lives to be full and satisfying.

Our English word “friend” comes from the same root as the word freedom. Indeed, a genuine friend sets us free to be who we are and to become what we long to be.

The Apocrypha to the Bible states, “A faithful friend is the medicine of life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked, “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.”

According to a Jewish saying, “The one who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure.”

Now … back to the matter of a friend being able to help us through the tough times in life and restore hope when life has left us discouraged. Linda Mae Richardson shares,

“When I was first diagnosed with cancer, my first friend came and expressed shock by saying, ‘I can’t believe that you have cancer; I always thought that you were active and healthy.’ He left, and I felt alienated and somehow very different.

“My second friend came and brought me information about treatments used for cancer and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t take chemotherapy. It’s a poison.’ He left, and I felt scared and confused.

“My third friend came and tried to answer my ‘whys’ with the statement, ‘Perhaps God is disciplining you for some sin in your life.’ He left, and I felt guilty.

“My fourth friend came and told me, ‘If your faith is great enough, God will heal you.’ He left, and I felt inadequate.

“My fifth friend came and told me to remember, ‘All things work together for good.’ He left, and I felt angry.

“My sixth friend never came at all. I felt sad and alone.

“My seventh friend came and held my hand and said, ‘I care. I’m here. I want to help you through this.’ He left, and I felt loved.”

That seventh friend is the kind of friend we need to get through the tough times in life.

Unfortunately, when things get tough many people have a tendency to isolate themselves from others. What we need to do is just the opposite.  Rather than pulling away from others during difficult times, we need to connect with a friend who will stand with us and listen to us and care for us through the struggles we face.

A Swedish proverb says it well: “Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”

Is there someone you know who may need a friend today?  Or is there someone you need to connect with while you go through some challenge in your life?

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Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: tomtripp@frontiernet.net