I remember that terrible time last fall when my son was "ripped apart" when his wife walked out the door and his world collapsed around him. His first response was to cry out to God. This must always be our first response for God and God only is our ever present help. However, his next response was to cry out not only to his parents but also to his friends.
My son is an only child. My husband has no living siblings and my only sibling never married or had any children so he is not only an only child, he is an only grandchild as well though he has numerous first cousins once removed, second cousins, second cousins once removed and so forth. Unfortunately, nearly all of them live several hundred miles away.
In retrospect, I have to say that it was God who prompted me from the very beginning of my son's life to pray for friends. I suppose that some people would have regarded that as being a very foolish prayer to pray for an infant, but I did and I still do. As the years went by, I watched a young man grow up who was eager to develop friendships, not selfish friendships, but true friendships.
My husband and I did not give our son brothers but God did. The children of those brothers call him "uncle" (and call me "nana"). So these brothers responded to his cry that night and quickly other friends gathered around him. It was his friends who helped me clean up and restore order to his home after much had been carried off and the remaining contents were scattered and thrown about carelessly. It was friends who kept vigil over him, making sure that someone was always within easy reach when he needed them. They couldn't "fix it". They couldn't make the problem or the hurt go away but they could walk with him, listen to him, pray with him and let him know how much they loved him. He was not alone. There were friends beside him, even in this darkest of places.
On Monday evening more than 30 people gathered together for my son's 30th birthday. Other friends who could not attend sent him birthday greetings. Knowing the difficult time he has gone through, they all wanted to show him how much they love and support him. He is the type of person who always has tried to be there for his friends and now it was their turn to be there for him.
Like so many people other people, in the hustle and bustle of day to day life and raising a family, when things slowed down a bit, I became aware of the absence of friends. Oh there were acquaintances of course but those people who would stand beside you through thick and thin had noticeably become well, noticeably thin. This troubled me because I realized that I had failed to maintain friendships like I should have. Deep and lasting friendships require cultivation and I had not given them the proper attention for some time. I could not wait for someone else to change that, I needed to change that myself but where did I start? People had moved, connections had been broken, people were caught up in their own lives, etc.
James 1:5 says:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (NIV)
so that is what I did. I asked God to introduce me to some of His friends. People who He specifically wanted me to connect with, friends I could truly walk with, friends who would be a blessing to me and friends whom I could be a blessing to as well.
Contrary to what we sometimes think, God wants us to develop friendships. We must never fall into the trap of placing our friends above God or relying on them instead of God, but He doesn't want us to live solitary lives. He designed us to be social beings who form groups and live in communities. These things in themselves are not wrong unless we place them above God and/or turn these things into barriers against others. In fact the Word of God says:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
I am very thankful for the people God has brought into my life to do life with me. Sometimes it is just for a season but others, well, it appears that we are together for the long haul and I am so thankful that they are!
All scripture unless otherwise noted is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thank God for all of Daniel's friends who have stood in the gap and helped him through this most difficult year. His birthday party was truly God's way of saying, "It is all going to be ok now son".