93: A True Friend

93: A True Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

  
A True Friend, a Godsend

Two are better than one …
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.

~Ecclesiastes

Not so long ago I was going through a real difficult time in my life that truly I could not have faced alone. Up until this point in life, I felt that I was finally getting a handle on things and was making some progress. My mindset was geared toward achieving success for the sake of my family. You see, I had all of my priorities wrong. I measured success in life based upon the amount of money I earned, the position I held, and the things I could afford for my family. I always thought that I was doing it for them. But then one day my wife walked out on me, taking our son with her. Two weeks later I lost my job; eventually I lost our home, car, and everything else I had worked so hard to attain. In desperation I called out to God, but it seemed I couldn’t get an answer.

For days, weeks, and months, I cried and prayed, asking God “Why are these things happening to me? Lord, I have been faithful in attending church, tithing, and living a Godly life to the best of my understanding. So why am I experiencing the trouble I suddenly find myself facing?”

I have never had many friends who I could call true, close friends. Most were just social friends who I would go to lunch with on Sundays after morning service. Some would occasionally stop by our place, but usually this was only if we had invited them over for supper. But we never had someone who would just stop in to say, “Hi, are you okay? Are things going well? Haven’t heard from you in a day or two and felt I needed to check on you.”

However, a couple of years before this crisis, while working as the manager of a local bookstore, I met a gentleman who was interested in selling his book on consignment. So after reviewing his book, we accepted it. Over the next couple of months, Sam came by on several occasions to check on his book. Since it was his first book to be published, he was eager to make a sale. Each time he stopped by, we would talk about his writing and I would do my best to give him my insight on different publishers. During these conversations a friendship was born. At one point we began having lunch together. And over a period of a couple of years, our friendship developed to the point that we would confide in each other about things that were happening in our personal lives.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was preparing me for what I was about to face later on. After my wife left, I was alone. I never had a strong relationship with my mother, brother, or sister. I love them, and we talked occasionally, but we did not have that close bond so that I could confide in them about my situation. But I had Sam. He would stop by on a regular basis just to check on me. At times he would bring food, or ask me to go to a restaurant with him. Of course, being unemployed I didn’t have the funds to eat out, but he insisted that I go with him and that he would pay for it. He told me many times, “Don’t worry about it. I enjoy the friendship and fellowship.” Being a prideful person, I sometimes found it difficult to say yes. I felt that if I couldn’t pay my own way, then I shouldn’t be going. But God was teaching me a lesson in humility.

On several occasions I would get the blues and start feeling lonely. Then in prayer I would question, “God, why am I faced with this trial? I feel so alone.” At times, I didn’t have a dollar to my name and no gas in the car to go searching for a job. I had been unemployed for a couple of months. But then Sam would drop by and before leaving he would reach into his pocket and say, “I just felt that I should give you this.” And he would stick money into my shirt pocket. In my stubborn prideful way, I wanted to say “No thanks!” But in reality, I truly needed it and was thankful.

What I didn’t understand for some time was that God was caring for me through Sam. Sam was more than just someone who stopped by now and then. There were nights that he would sit and patiently listen to my sob story, while I whined and complained. Then he would give me some words of encouragement and advice. There were times when I was so frustrated that I couldn’t focus on what I needed to do in order to find a job. He would sit down at my computer and spend two or three hours doing job searches online and submitting my résumé for me. I didn’t have the motivation to do it. I had hit rock bottom. I had just about given up.

One evening in prayer, as I began to meditate and listen to God, he reminded me of a scripture in the Bible found in 1 Kings 17 verses 1-6. It says that God sent the prophet Elijah to the brook Cherith to stay there for a while. He drank the water from the brook and God sent ravens to bring him bread and meat every morning and night. That is when I got a clearer revelation about what was happening in my life.

From the beginning I had questioned God as to whether I had done something, or failed to do something, that caused his judgment to be pronounced upon me. I felt that maybe this trial was a curse from God for some sin in my life that I had failed to repent of. But that was not the case at all! God was teaching me to trust him for whatever provisions I needed for each day. He was teaching me that I couldn’t stand alone as an Island, but that as a part of the body of Christ I need others to stand with me.

As for my daily sustenance, gas money, motivation, and encouragement, God sent my friend Sam on a regular basis. I thank Sam for being a true friend, and I thank God for the blessing of a true friend at a most crucial point in my life. It is my prayer that should I encounter someone who is in need of a friend, that I will be sensitive enough to recognize the need and humble enough to step up to the plate and fill that void in his or her life.

~Bob Arba

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