By Tom Greco
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” — Romans 12:10-15 (NIV)
A great friend and wonderful teacher invited me into her second grade classroom to join her students in class projects, lunch, and recess games. An overwhelming majority of her students either live with one parent, foster parents, or grandparents. Many of the biological parents are incarcerated, drug addicts, or have lost or are in the process of losing custody of their children.
During one class, she played a music video made by Bruno Mars titled, “Count on Me.” The lyrics go like this:
“If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of the sea
I’ll sail the world to find you
If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can’t see
I’ll be the light to guide you
We’ll find out what we’re made of
When we are called to help our friends in need.
You can count on me like 1, 2, 3
I’ll be there
And I know when I need it, I can count on you like 4, 3, 2
And you’ll be there
‘Cause that’s what friends are supposed to do.”
The teacher shared that her students broke down in tears when they heard this song. These children expressed that they desperately longed for the love, friendship, and companionship of their parents. The teacher was silent, sat down, and just cried with them. The children could see her love for each of them.
Jesus communicated God’s caring love for people in every encounter. We need both truth and grace: the truth about God, the truth about ourselves, and grace at their intersection. Every day, people in our lives are unexpectedly confronted with difficult life situations and need you and me to come alongside them. As they work through their pain and find healing, they are best helped by someone who, like Jesus, is sensitive to what they are feeling and is loving and practical in their caring.
In many ways, these divine situations are not a time to ask why or to offer advice or to even try to evangelize. In these times, people are best helped by knowing they are not alone, and that Jesus is with them. I remember the adage, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
In “Count on Me,” Bruno Mars offers these last words to think about:
“And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me
Every day I will remind you.”
We are not designed to go through life alone or without help. God longs to use you and me as His hands and feet to those He has placed in our path. He longs to make you a friend as He is a friend to us. Every day God provides a subtle reminder of how much He loves us, often disguised as a sunrise, a sunset, the smile of a baby, a blowing wind, a snowflake, a cloud formation, or perhaps even in the lyrics of a song.
Who do you know who really needs a friend to talk to, a friend who will listen without ridicule or passing judgment?
What is stopping you from being that friend?
Write a prayer and ask God to give you the courage to take the first step to be that friend.
Tom Greco is lead pastor at Ontario Community Church. He may be reached at [email protected].
Photo Credit – Annie Spratt from Pixabay