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The Unexpected Gift of Friends

There’s no doubt about it, I was struggling.

Suddenly and without warning, I was faced with a major problem coupled with personal pain. In just a few minutes, I went from feeling like everything was great to being knocked down flat on my face unsure of where to turn next.

A woman who saw me minutes after I received some bad news said I looked like I’d been in a car crash---completely shocked, not knowing what to do, yet knowing this was bad---really bad. (Have to admit that her description surprised me because I thought I was doing a pretty good job of smiling and acting like everything was alright. Obviously, I have no poker face.)

Although this doesn’t happen to me often, the truth is that this particular blow left me feeling like I wanted to give up. Walk away. Just quit.

The mountain I was facing was just too high. The battle would just be too hard. In myself, I just couldn’t find the hope I needed to move forward.

Fortunately, hope sometimes appears from the most unexpected places.

In this crisis, hope arrived in the form of some friends---women of God who answered the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and came along side of me giving me the support and hope I needed to get back on my feet again.

My first friend was the woman who used the car crash analogy. Our paths intersected within minutes of my becoming aware of the problem. Seeing beyond the façade I was trying to project (although apparently badly) she stopped and she prayed.

Without asking for details or offering opinions, she just took my hands and brought me immediately before the throne of God. Then she spoke words of life into me: She reminded me that God is in control, He is My Refuge and Strength, He is my Father, and though I couldn’t feel anything at this moment, God had this.

The beautiful thing about this friend is that she didn’t demand an explanation. She didn’t try to “fix me” in that moment. Instead, she pointed my spinning head in the right direction while she was just there for me.

Then she took it a step further and offered to be there when I was ready to talk. She promised no judgment—just listening and helping me process---and best of all complete confidentiality.

Although I couldn’t talk right then, when I did take her up on her offer, she did exactly what she said she would do. As she gave up an hour of her time so I could process my feelings and begin the healing process, the Holy Spirit used her to start shining the tiniest glimmers of hope into my pain and distress. At the end of the conversation she reassured me that all that was said would be locked in a vault and forgotten---she’d just pray and trust God to come through.

What an amazing friend! What an instrument of hope when I was hurting and bleeding! Because of her friendship, the bleeding began to stop and the road to recovery began.

The next unexpected burst of hope came in the form of a card from another friend. It was a simple act---a boxed card signed “With love”---but it reminded me that I wasn’t alone. With that card, another beam of hope appeared.

Later that week, my brother and I received an invitation to go to a concert from some friends who had absolutely no idea what was going on in my life. But again, that act of kindness, a simple invitation reminded me that we were not alone. Instead, I was surrounded by people who loved us, who supported us and who would help us whenever they were asked. With each reminder that I was not alone, more and more hope came through the darkness causing the pain and the confusion to continue to fade.

The next glimmer of hope came from a telephone call from a friend. This time it was an invitation to join her on a new adventure. As we talked, it was like the Holy Spirit was using her to say, “Okay, it’s time to get back up and move forward again. Yes, something bad happened but you can’t stay there---you’ve got to get into the game again.”

By making that phone call, it was like my friend reached out her hand and said, “C’mon. I’ll walk with you.” And the journey out of the pit of gloom, pain, and fear began as we walked forward together hopeful for the future.

Finally, there was one last glimmer of hope that arrived via social media. A note of encouragement left of my timeline with the comment, “Thinking of you today…I asked God how I could bless you, and I found this among my Scripture photos.”

The Scripture: Romans 15:13, “ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

As I read her post and thought about all the people that God had used to pour hope into my life during a period when I was under heavy attack from fear, heartache, and confusion, I couldn’t help but think of the 4 friends who brought their friend to Jesus in Mark 2: 2-4.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

Just like the friends in these verses carried their friend to Jesus, during my difficult days, my friends had carried me to Jesus. When I was unable to see beyond my own pain and struggle, they did what was necessary to get me the help and give me the hope I needed to get back on my feet and continue walking again.

As I was thanking God for these friends---these godly people that were brought into my life, I began to pray that I would follow their example and be the same type of friend to those around me who where in need.

I prayed that in the right moments, I would see someone who was hurting and carry them to Jesus in prayer.

…that the Holy Spirit would lead me to those who need a confidential, listening, non-judgmental ear

…that I could help someone see that they are not alone

…or that I could be the helping hand to someone who needed a little prompting to “get up” and get back into the game

…that like my friends who were there for me in my time of need, in my time of strength, I could be the hands and feet of Jesus to someone else who is hurting. I prayed that someday soon, I could pay it forward and shine hope into someone else’s life just like my friends’ acts of kindness shone a big old spotlight of hope into my struggle.

Because, ultimately, this is what we are called to do.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

(Galatians 6:2)

Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to be someone’s unexpected hope today?

Is He prompting you to pray, write a note, send a card, make a call, or provide an invitation?

Please let this article remind you to NEVER ignore these callings from the Holy Spirit. Take them seriously and act on them. Who knows that your obedience won’t be the very thing that provides hope, healing, comfort, or strength to someone in need?

Don’t ever be so consumed in the pursuit of the big things that you ignore the Holy Spirit’s call to do the little things…

...Things like being a friend, providing encouragement, or giving someone the hope that they need to make it through a difficult time.

Because hope really does some in the most unexpected ways….perhaps today someone’s unexpected hope is meant to come from YOU!

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