Week One of the Journey to Hope is about relationships. Here is a seven minute discussion about the connection between friendship and hope. The hosts of the program talk to a mother of an autistic boy. She talks about how shattered she was when she first heard the news, and how relationships gave her strength. Brian, one of the hosts, Brian, said:
“Sometimes we don’t have the words. Sometimes we don’t know what to do, but we can just be. And just sit, and perhaps hold someone’s hand and walk with them. It’s not always about doing or saying something. That bond can be transformational.”
I’m immediately reminded of Job’s friends. There are times when I hear about a friend’s problem, and I feel like I need to rush in to solve the problem. I often have to remind myself that a friend might not be looking for solutions. It’s easy to offer answers. It takes time, commitment and compassion to offer myself. Friendship – true friendship – isn’t an easy endeavor, but it is so worth it.
When I start to think of the friends in my life, I can easily become choked with emotion. I think about people with whom I’ve shared a moment in time:
High school friends with whom I shared a television show, a “secret club,” a perfect night on the roof of The Odyssey, parties at Weed’s (not weed parties), and one great victory over the BBC. I think of fraternity brothers with whom I shared a few beers, a few all-nighters, a few meetings of the TNC, a couple of trips to Virginia, and more than a few long, heart-felt talks.
I can think of the faces that have come in and out of my life and thank God for the moments that we shared. I can think of teammates, classmates, and colleagues that populate my memories. Even if we aren’t in contact anymore, I am so grateful to the people that have been the in the movie of my life.
And then I think of the co-stars. The ones that have done more than shape me. They are the ones that have formed me. So much of my hope comes from my friends.
My friends have loved me through difficult times. They have (as my Dad often says) “Multiplied my joy and divided my sorrow.” We’ve been together trough the valley of the shadow of death, and we have celebrated the greatest joys. There’s nothing like calling a friend with good news, or lightening my load with a quick phone call that turns into an hour-long conversation.
I love my friends, and I probably don’t tell them that enough. But then again, they probably know. To my friends, thank you. Thank you for being a source of hope, for showing me what it is like to walk with God. Thank you for offering me forgiveness when I don’t deserve it, and helping me when I could never pay you back. Thank you for revealing the love of Christ in your smile, your listening, your tears, and your embrace. Thank you, above all, for reminding me that I am never alone in this world.
When I think of hope, I think of my friends. And Jesus did to.
“‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.'” (John 15:9-13, NRSV)
It was to his friends that he entrusted his life. He was abandoned, denied, and betrayed, but his faith in his friends held fast. He knew that it would be his friends that carried out his mission in the world. Jesus wrote nothing save for what he wrote on the hearts of his friends. His friends would become the Church. All that claim Christ as their friend today do so because Jesus trusted his friends so long ago. For this we may all be grateful, for we are all offered the love that Jesus described – the love that is so strong that he would lay down his life.