“Please God no. Please, please. Let this not be her.” These words rang in my mind as I received the news that our eight-year-old daughter had a large brain tumor. I held her close as the doctor said he must operate immediately or she would lose all her motor skills.
“Mommy what is a brain tumor?” She asked.
My mind raced to answer her.
“Jesus how can this be?” I asked in my mind, fighting back the tears. I called George and delivered the news in a staccato voice. “Be strong, be strong. Lord, please help me,” I repeated to myself. As our daughter held my hand and skipped alongside me, excited to be going home after such a difficult test, I could barely walk to the car.
“Sweetie, let’s sing all the songs we know about Jesus as I drive,” I suggested. When she sung “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” I prayed silently, “Lord, give me in strength and faith.” As we arrived home, cars lined our driveway into the street.
“Mommy, who is here?” Heidi asked.
George greeted us at the door, grabbed her in his arms, and held her tightly while tears flowed. When I composed myself and looked around the room, I saw it was full of friends. George had made one phone call and two of our pastors, the lay leader in our church, Sunday School teachers, and many friends had already arrived, ready to lend support and pray for our daughter.
Scripture teaches us we will have trials and challenges. Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NLT). During difficult times, true friendships are more valuable than gold.
The Bible is full of examples of deep lasting friendships, such as David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi. When the Lord brings people into our lives there is a reason, and that reason may be to glean from them or to somehow be a light in their lives. In relationships there should be great joy and laughter, but there will also be misunderstandings and hurts because we are all human. Friendships require grace, love and mercy to grow. Godly friendships are priceless.
Below are a few ways to be a true friend and maintain your friendships.
- Choose friends wisely– “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20 NIV). After a very bad incident in my life with friendships, I now ask the Lord to show me who He wants me to befriend.
- Be kind and forgive– “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV). “Peter asked Jesus, ‘How many times do I forgive?’ Jesus replied, ‘Seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18:22). It is necessary to remind ourselves that people are not perfect.
- Be a good listener– “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19 ESV). Making eye contact tells a person you are interested in what they have to say.
- Stay in touch– Staying in touch with distant friends through an email, text, or phone call is important. I have friends who I may not have seen or talked to for a while, but a simple short text lets them know I am thinking of them.
- Be loyal, respectful, and not a talebearer – “There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). “Many will say they are loyal, but who can find one who is truly reliable” (Proverbs 20:6)? Be respectful of your friend’s opinions even if you disagree. Don’t “major on the minors.” The quickest way to end a trusted friendship is to talk about your friend negatively to others or to share a confidence as a “prayer request.”
- Show appreciation and gratitude– “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust. Speaking appreciation and gratitude go a long way in a friendship. Sometimes we become too comfortable in the friendship, therefore we take the friendship for granted and forget to express our appreciation and gratitude.
- Enjoy life together– Proverbs 17:22 tells us laughter is great medicine. Psalm 126:2 talks about our mouths being filled with laughter and tongues with songs of joy. Wonderful memories are made with others when you experience new and exciting things together. Enjoy the friendships the Lord has placed into your life. He wants us to be happy.
Jesus modeled friendship for us. He chose twelve friends to be with Him. These twelve men stayed with Him throughout His ministry. They created memories by traveling together and witnessing miracles. He spoke encouragement; He listened; He was respectful; and He appreciated them.
During the time of our daughter’s brain tumor, our church set up a 24-hour ongoing prayer time that started the night before her surgery. People asked friends and family members in prayer groups across America to pray. The common bond of prayer came from the like-mindedness of believers. They were there to stand with us and lift us spiritually, just as Aaron and Ur lifted the arms of Moses as the people crossed the sea.
Our daughter made it through the surgery and experienced many more miracles in the days that followed, while all those prayer warriors shared in the delight of her victories. Our daughter is now a happily married mother of three teenagers. Without the support and prayers of our friends, this ordeal would have been so much more difficult to face. Friendships are invaluable. Be a friend and thank God for true friendships.
Lord, I thank You for the friendships you have brought into my life and I look forward to meeting new friends. You modeled friendship for us in both good times and bad. Help me be the kind of friend who loves unconditionally as You do. Amen.