If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:10
Not too long ago, my husband and I did a LORD OF THE RINGS marathon over a three-day weekend. Wow, was it intense! We hadn’t seen the movie trilogy since they came out in the theater about 10 years ago and it was many more moons ago when I last read the books. Back then, I was pretty enamored with Frodo Baggins, the ring bearer, and had always considered him to be the glorious hero of the story. So it was very interesting to me, when this time around, I found myself drawn to Sam Gamgee. I watched his loyalty, courage and how he sacrificed himself for his friend. And thought to myself, this is the glorious hero! (Check out this wonderfully inspiring excerpt below!)
Why hadn’t I seen Sam as the hero of this story before? After some contemplation, the answer came to me–I now was older and more experienced with the calamities of life. I had actually walked through some of life’s valleys. I had seen the death of some dreams like when we learned of the rare genetic disorder that left two of our children with physical and cognitive challenges. I had lost my father and then my mother. Therefore, I now realized that I could not have weathered those experiences without the help of my friends.
When our children with special needs were younger and we were trying to work through the disillusionment that comes from disappointed expectations, there were so many friends that prayed for us and encouraged us. Precious letters, phone calls, scriptures shared and times of loving fellowship helped us walk through the darkness and back into the light. And even recently, when we were just about ready to give up hope on taking our 25th anniversary trip because we were unable to find anyone to take on the physically and emotionally demanding task of watching our special needs children , some wonderful friends came through for us. They sacrificed their Easter break so we could get away by ourselves for a much-needed vacation. We returned invigorated and ready to carry out our responsibilities with a renewed sense of joy and purpose!
When my father died in 2007, friends helped with the memorial service and prepared amazing dinners for our grieving family. I will never forget one young man from our church. We had just got back from our summer vacation the day before my father passed away. In our absence, there were some repairs and desperately needed cleanup around the church that needed to be done. This young man took it upon himself to have our church grounds looking so wonderfully inviting for the many guests that attended my father’s memorial service. You may think this weird, but his thoughtfulness comforted us. He had relieved us from the stress of having to worry about such things and we have never forgotten his kindness.
My mother got very sick just a few months after my father passed away and I have to describe that following year as one of the hardest of my life. Her health had rapidly declined and at one point I had to move in with her for a month. Fortunately, she only lived 20 minutes away from us. But things got worse. Her kidneys failed, requiring dialysis four days a week and then she began experiencing necrosis in her lower extremities which would require an amputation of her right lower leg. She elected to have the amputation surgery in a town that was two and a half hours away from us. She developed complications from the surgery which kept her in that hospital for the next six months. I was driving back and forth three to four times a week and this all took a terrible toll on our family. After a few times of nearly losing her, my mother miraculously began to recover and she was able to transfer to a convalescent home in our town for a couple of months where she would regain enough strength to return to her own home. Sorry for all the details but it was necessary for you to understand just what a wonderful thing my amazing friends did for me. I had friends who lived in the city where my mother was hospitalized for six months and they graciously and lovingly opened their homes to me, providing wonderful meals, amazing encouragement and helped to eliminate hotel expenses. One friend from that city faithfully visited my mother when I had to return home to care for my own family. She didn’t just visit. My friend arrived at the hospital room with meals from my mother’s favorite restaurants, brought beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers that she had lovingly arranged herself, and often arrived with makeup paraphernalia to do my mother’s hair and nails! It was so comforting to know my mother wasn’t alone when I couldn’t be with her. To top this all off, when the hardest part was over and my mom had returned back home, this friend called me up one day and offered me an airline ticket to anywhere in the United states to give me a short respite and refresh myself from the long ordeal!
My mother was able to return to her own home at the end of that year and live alone for two more years. We had some hospitalizations in those years but we managed to get through them. And when it came time for the Lord to take her home, again my friends were there for me. On the day my mother died, one dear friend came to my house to watch our son so that I could have the wonderful privilege of being at my mother’s bedside and hold her hand until Jesus took it. When I got home from the hospital, I found that my dear friend had not only watched my son but she had spent the day cooking four or five meals for my family for the days ahead.
I could not make it through this life without my dear friends. This post has only just a few of the many wonderful stories I could tell about my incredible friends with whom God has blessed me. They truly are such an amazing gift from above. With what friends has God blessed you? Who has been there in some of the most traumatic experiences of your life? Who has been a source of encouragement when you thought you couldn’t go any further? Take some time this week to send a text, email, letter or make a phone call to express your gratitude to those “glorious heroes” who have loyally and faithfully stood by your side. Don’t take for granted those friends that God has given you. Something else to think about: Who does God want to bless, encourage or assist through your friendship? LH
Got time? Check out this video from one of my favorite musicians, Bill Withers and the “Just Say Know” Bible Study on Friendship below!
(NOTE: To those reading this post who might view The Lord of the Rings negatively as many view the Harry Potter books and movies, I would just like to point out that the author of The Lord Of The Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien, was a Christian and a fellow member of a literary discussion group with C. S. Lewis called the Inklings. Christian Values were notably present in the work of several members of this group. In fact Tolkien actually helped C.S. Lewis on his journey to Christian faith. While Tolkien clearly denied that this trilogy was a covert allegory of the Gospel, he did describe his fantasy as a fundamentally religious work growing out of his own faith journey. Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware wrote a great book on the subject, Finding God in The Lord Of The Rings.)
“JUST SAY KNOW” Bible Study
Click on the link below for this week’s Bible Study.