Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Week Fourteen - Lord, I Need a Friend

     After over thirty years on the mission field, I have seen friends come, and friends go. The reasons may vary, but they have moved in and out of my life at a steady pace. A few years ago, after being stateside for over a year, I faced returning to the field with no close friends to welcome me back.  My nearest friend was two hours away and I was feeling the emptiness. So, that began my prayer, “Lord, please give me some friends.”  I had loads of folks around me in ministry, but I was missing the closeness that comes with two hearts bound in friendship outside the ministry context.
     Once home, I continued my prayer and looked expectantly for my new friend.  I tried developing friendships with those around me and reaching out where I believed was potential but came up dry. I continued my prayer and looked to the Lord as I waited for Him to bring me a real friend or two.
     Then, I got the dreadful news no one wants to hear.  Cancer.  My concern for a friend waned as I began to draw upon my True Friend who faced the fears within me and helped me wade through decisions as a cancer patient.  I needed help to understand what was happening and someone to guide me through the process.  The only doctor I knew personally was the young wife of one of our former students, so I confided in her and she became my confidant and source for decision making.
      This young woman listened patiently as I explained my fears and queried every medicine and procedure.  She took time to ask her colleagues and find the answers for me as she assured me of a good outcome. She met with me and sent little tokens of concern.  She, too, lived over two hours away, but she took time to come and sit with me and through this process, we became deep friends.
     As Robert Browning put it, “Hush, I pray you!  What if this friend happens to be – God?”  Truly, God had answered my prayer.  Her friendship was the hand of God in my life – His arms around me.  Not only through my bout with cancer, but continuing today, her kindness and our unlikely friendship (as she puts it), is an answer to prayer.
     Through counsel, comfort, sharing, and caring, friends are not only a gift from the Lord, but they are also tools in His hands. But friendship is a two-way street.  God wants us to be a blessing to others, also.
      My young friend faces a strenuous life. She is a wife and mother, a medical student, and a working doctor facing stresses most of us never know about the profession.  In her times of need, God has allowed me to be her confident and source of release and solace, causing our friendship to grow deeper as we do the give and take required to grow a friendship and keep it alive.  Our unlikely friendship is a joy to us both.
     We enjoy playing card games, walking on the beach, sipping cups of tea before the open fire, and old books. One she shared with me is The Transforming Friendship by Leslie D. Weatherhead.  Written mainly about friendship with Christ, the author wrote, “When I go out to do a service to another man in the name of Christ I feel I have not had an experience with that other man.  I have had an experience with Christ.”
     And that must be the basis of true friendship; to do good for someone else, to love them with an unselfish and generous spirit; to give to them as unto Christ. For only then will we be doing them a service.  Only then will we recognize God amid our friendships.
     As I look at my new friendship, I still see it as an answer to prayer.  And God didn’t stop by giving me one friend; I now have my young doctor friend, but also, two colleagues nearby for fun and encouragement, an older, solid friend who is like a mother, and beautiful, maturing friendships within ministry. With the arms of these friends around me, I see and feel the love of God – the everlasting arms – underneath holding all of us up together.  I’m never alone.
     If you are feeling empty and lonely due to a lack of friends, call out to the True Friend, and allow Him to bring people into your life to meet your need.  They might be unlikely, but as He saw it was not good for Adam to be alone, He knows you need a companion as well.  You never know who He will send your way, but you will feel His loving arms around you in the friendships He gives.

“Hush, I pray you!  What if this friend happens to be – God?”  Robert Browning*

Weatherhead, Leslie D, The Transforming Friendship, London, Epworth Press, 1936, p 135.
*page 122


  1. What a blessing
    Been there and thankful He is all we need. Sometimes it is good to have a friend "with skin on." Appreciate you.

  2. Thank you for sharing Gail! I too have seen many leave from our area. We are the only ones left on this side of the country. It IS very lonely at times, but as you said, Our God is our constant guide and stay. Without Him our lives would be very hard to bear. God bless you and Tom, in all you do in HIS Name.