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Friendship

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;  Matthew 11:11

It’s been quite a few years but the period of time where I felt I had zero friends still brings a bit of sadness.  I was in the midst of mild depression, hormonal changes, medical issues and family changes.  As I evaluated the relationships I had outside my family I realized I lacked any true friends.  Many acquaintances, but no friends I could solidly rely upon.   There’s many of us that have gone through or are currently in that lonely place.   God, from the beginning, decided we shouldn’t be alone and when we are we feel that sense of incompleteness.

What I love about the quote from Jesus today is how He showed the world how much He loved and valued friendship.  Imagine a friend elevating you to such heights! When my youngest daughter went off to college she discovered this type of friendship.  I still remember the phone call when she told me she had finally realized what true, loving friendship means. 

“When she introduces me she starts out saying what an amazing writer I am and how talented I am.  She is so proud of me and excited to walk alongside me in life without jealousy or competition,” my daughter explained about her friend.  Isn’t that the type of friendship we all need?  Ones where we lift each other up and comfort each other when we are down?  People who jump at the chance to help us and just live life with us?  

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:10

I’ve come a long way from that sad time in my life.  I turned to God and the Holy Spirit for help.  I asked for good women to come into my life and they have.  I’ve had to do a lot of work on my end – as God has revealed the reasons I was in that place to begin with.  I needed to learn to be the friend I desired to have.

Let’s thank God for giving us the yearning for friendship.  Let’s thank God for helping fill that yearning.  And although we are never truly alone because of our fellowship with the Almighty, He wants us in Christian fellowship to guide us in our sanctification journey.  Our first step is to ask Him to fulfill this need.  And then we need to go to work.

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Anchored In Joy

And foreigners who bind themselves to 
the Lord to minister to him,to love the 
name of the Lord, and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without 
desecrating it and who hold fast to 
my covenant—these I will bring to my 
holy mountain and give them joy in my 
house of prayer.
Isaiah 56:6-7

These months of Coronavirus lockdowns and limitations have led to varying degrees of modified social gathering, decreased family contact and less human contact than any time in my 55 years on this earth.  Certainly, the psychiatrists and social scientists will write about this period of time for decades to come. The scientific themes and research will revolve around isolation, depression, anxiety and the overall physical decline of those who were compromised and the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

There is no question that decreased physical contact and changes in routines and habits can throw all of us off our game. So many have lost their solid hold on the anchor lines of routine, comfort and familiarity. But did our dependence on other people for our happiness and joy make us vulnerable in ways we never expected? 

Happiness or Joy?

During the last nine months, I’m confident in saying we all have experienced the side effects of these pseudo government-imposed quarantines, confinements and solitude from limited human contact. Not many of us think it has been good for us and others, the social animals amongst us, think it has been the work of the devil himself.

Personally, I have learned some very valuable and lifelong lessons from this pandemic imposed by the changes to our day-to-day lives. Most importantly, my joy is not dependent on those around me and what they bring to the game. My joy comes from within and from above.

Praise the Lord! For he has heard 
my cry for mercy. The Lord is my 
strength and shield. I trust him 
with all my heart. He helps me, 
and my heart is filled with joy.
Psalm 28:6-7 

While happiness is temporary and fleeting, joy is deep, sustainable and long-lived if based in the promise of God’s plan for lives. Happiness is equivalent to a thread that can bind items together but has little strength under pressure and strain. Joy is a thick, tightly-woven and multistrand rope created to anchor and restrain heavy items like a ship or a barge.  When joy is fixed in our soul and anchored to Jesus’s love for us the anguish, the discomfort, and the turmoil we feel during a pandemic doesn’t knock us down to our knees. 

Joy is my equalizer that levels the panic and threat level and brings everything back into focus. I am not dependent on other people for my joy and my peace. My anchor rope is fixed to my Father who has promised strength, protection, salvation and joy.

Until now you have asked for 
nothing in My name; ask and 
you will receive, so that 
your joy may be made full.
John 16:24