Investing in friends pays lifetime dividends. They say in order to have a friend you need to be a friend. This is true if you want that friend to be the real deal. When a crisis hits in our lives we find out who our real friends are. In the cancer community, it is well known everywhere that patients are almost always surprised at who steps up to help and who does not. My experience is no different. Often a more recent acquaintance surprises the patient with their devotion and self-sacrifice to help their friend in their time of need. On the other hand, lifetime friends can all but disappear causing one to wonder what that friendship was based on if anything. Someone I don’t even know may leave a message on Caring Bridge that they pray for me every day. And then I may run into a longtime friend that has little idea at all what updates there might be in my battle. This is not a blog to be critical. Frankly, I have often been the longtime friend of those going through rough times that didn’t step up. But there is something about being in the fire for year after year that makes a person compassionate. When someone is in the midst of hard times, I now feel it deeply. God has done a good work in me, the hard way.
I have been abundantly blessed with good friends. I don’t know of anyone in a similar situation that has more prayer support and other support than me and my family. I don’t take this lightly and give thanks often for my good fortune. Recently the cancer I have been battling for over five years reared its very ugly head again and I am fighting for my life. And recently, friends have sent me timely, encouraging messages to lift me up when I and my family are down. I thought I would share a small portion of these encouraging words with you today. Put yourself in my situation and think of how these “words with friends” have blessed me.
One of my greatest cheerleaders is someone I have known for over 40 years, and I have watched this person walk with God no matter what has befallen them in this life. Often her messages to me are a lifeline, just in time. She concludes nearly every encouraging message with these life-giving Bible verses:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Another friend, whom I seldom see, recently sent me these encouraging words:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).
One of the best friends a man could have has insisted on visiting me regularly to encourage me and pray with me often. He recently sent me this:
God is the same yesterday today and forever and is with you as He was with Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego!
I attend a prayer meeting every Friday evening and the leader is someone I have known only for a short time. A few weeks ago he dedicated the entire prayer meeting to me and my family. Throughout the night the Spirit of God spoke through him with incredible words of life, often using Bible verses to do the praying.
He has sent me some texts recently with these words:
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
One of my anthem songs during this battle with lung cancer and all that lung cancer entails, like breathing challenges, is a popular worship song in churches right now. It is called, Great are You Lord, but has a phrase that moves me every time I hear it:
It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out your praise to you only…
I wrote a blog on this song. Follow the link to read it. Anyway, another great cheerleader who tirelessly encourages us reminded me of this song in a text. She also has sent numerous timely Bible verses, especially during some really down times recently.
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).
So as you can see, just a timely Bible verse can change a day. Anyone can do that. Of course, Caring Bridge is a wonderful tool for encouragement and I have hundreds of loving comments from people who care. Many of these dear people I don’t know very well or not at all. Wow. Here are a few recent one’s messages:
- Praying for all of you. The enemy is on the run. Fleeing, and as he flees he drops his lies into our lives, but we know the Joy of the Lord is our strength.
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord!
Love you all greatly.
- This verse makes me think of you Dan: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8. Praying.
- Dan, just a simple note with the hope and desire of bringing a measure of encouragement your way. As your family and friends continue to shower you with love, prayers, and support we are reminded again and again that all is in His loving hands. So as you find a moment to sit in the quietness of this day and hear the soft whisper of Jesus, be strengthened by His words and be comforted by His promises.
Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,”
- May the Lord bless you and keep you, Dan, may his healing hand rest upon your lungs and entire body. May the peace that is beyond all of our earthly understanding guard your heart and mind. And may goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life. May the blessings of the Lord continue to uplift and encourage your family daily. In Jesus name, I ask these things, Amen.
As I said, there are hundreds of similar words of hope on Caring Bridge and in my email and message box. I know by picking only a few of the wonderful words with friends I have received recently I have left many out who blessed me beyond measure when they took the time to write a text or message. God knows your kind deeds and how He led you to do what you did, just in time!
Dear friends, when someone we know is in the depths of a fiery trial, it is hard to know what to do about it. We all want to do something, but what? There are many things we can do, but as you can see from these examples, a quick word of encouragement has staying power and accomplishes the good it is meant to do. Thank you for your kindness to me and my family, and spread the love to others!