One of the most powerful expressions of friendship I’ve ever experienced took place when my husband and I were 2,500 miles away from home leading a youth mission trip to Mexico. We’d only been in the country a day when we got the call telling us my husband’s oldest sister, Kay, was on life support after a massive brain aneurysm. She died the next day.
David knew if we came home, so must the team. We’d leave behind missionaries and their children, 50 people, who were depending on us. There was no Plan B, so we chose to stay.
Deciding not to come home for Kay’s memorial service was one of the hardest decisions my husband has ever made, but he knew it was what Kay would have wanted. “I’m proud of you, Brother,” she’d told him the day before we left on the mission trip.
At the hour our family gathered in South Carolina for Kay’s memorial service, we excused ourselves from the mission conference to hold our own private memorial. We cried, prayed, and remembered. We laughed a little as we remembered Kay’s quirky sense of humor and told stories that made us smile through our tears.
What we didn’t know at the time was that many of our closest friends had gathered where we couldn’t be—at Kay’s service. If we’d been there, they would have rallied around us. Because we couldn’t be, they were there in our place—honoring Kay, loving our family, sharing our tears.
Margaret Feinberg, in her book, Fight Back with Joy, says, "We need people who will reach out and hold our hands whenever we find ourselves walking in the dark."
Upon our return, someone showed us the guest book from the service. It read like the Sunday School role from our beloved class. We were overwhelmed that friend after friend after friend had taken time off work that day to stand in our place at the memorial service.
We'll never forget selfless, sacrificial acts like this one. Being the recipient of such love gifts makes us humble, grateful, and eager to minister to others like others have ministered to us.
We know, ultimately, that our friends are able to love us well because they have the love of Christ in their hearts. "We love because he first loved us," 1 John 4:19 explains. Feinberg agrees. "They become peepholes through which we glimpse the kingdom of God, inspiration to become the best possible versions of ourselves even in the most difficult circumstances."
I pray you have at least one friend who loves you with the love of Christ, but even if you don't, I hope you have Christ, the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Do you have a friend who has loved you with Christ-like friendship. Leave a comment in the box below and join the conversation. If you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment there.
“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Claire Ryann and her daddy have a great understanding of what it means to be a friend. I hope this little song makes you smile.
If you’re reading by email and can’t see the video of Claire Ryann and her dad singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” Click HERE.