“The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.” – Pudd’nhead Wilson (Mark Twain)
“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.” Job 2:11
From the above quotes, I hope you can identify the theme of my appeal: friendship. So let me get straight to an important request. If there is a friend in your life that you haven’t talked to in a while, reach out to them. Ask how they are doing. Just contact them to say hello. Don’t read this and do nothing.
I am not trying to inspire you to wishful thinking. I am admonishing you to act. Reach out to a friend that you haven’t heard from in a while. If you do that right now then you are excused from reading the rest. I want to share a few personal examples of why it is so important.
This past November was the one year anniversary of the death of a good friend of mine. He was 44 years old, had two young children, and drank himself to death. In high school, we were a close circle of about 6 friends who did everything together. As his life started to spiral out of control a few years ago we were there for him – to golf, to watch football and to have a few beers. None of us knew the pain in his life that was causing him to completely unravel until it was too late.
In retrospect, there were a lot of things we all would have done differently. And as overwhelming as his situation was the solution was simple. More on that in a moment.
More recently another friend – by the grace of God and with courage from the Holy Spirit – reached out to his circle of friends for help. He was in a dark, desperate place and was plagued by depression. This had been going on in his life for a few years. But of course, I was clueless to his pain because I had abandoned him.
Sure I thought about him a lot. “I wonder how George* is doing?” I would think to myself before immediately getting distracted. I would invite him to dinners or get-togethers and think nothing when I did not get a response. He would be included in the silly email strings that circulate on occasion, and that was the extent of my friendship. I justified my abandonment by telling myself that George is busy…has a demanding job…has young kids – all the typical excuses.
Little did I know that he was hurting and needed help. He had fallen into a pit of depression, and I was not there to help him out.
To be sure if a friend of mine calls and desperately asks for help I would move mountains to be there. But what about the friend who doesn’t call? Easy to help someone who asks for it. Far more difficult to find ways to be helpful to those who don’t ask.
But you don’t need a degree in psychiatry to help. The story of Job is informative. Upon hearing of his afflictions, Job’s friends traveled to be with him. Job was being tormented by Satan and was desperate and confused. When his friends arrived, “they sat on the ground with [Job] for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13
What could they offer except their availability? They didn’t have the answer. They didn’t offer the exact right words to soothe his pain. They simply sat in his presence. In doing this Job knew he was not alone.
So take 5 minutes this week to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Maybe you will have a polite conversation, catch up on each other’s life and find that all is well.
But maybe in doing so, you will be reaching out to someone who desperately needs to know they are not alone.
*not real name