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photo courtesy of fas.org

I was home for lunch one day, when I heard what sounded like gunfire from somewhere nearby. I went outside to see if I could hear anything more. Another shot was fired at the end of the cul de sac where we lived. I walked down the street and heard a third shot from a house where I knew a young couple lived with their newborn baby. I walked to the door and rang the doorbell; no one answered. I knocked; no one answered. I could hear someone crying inside………. I dialed 911.

Later in the day, after the police and ambulance had gone, I was able to speak with the husband. I discovered that his wife had tried to commit suicide; apparently she was suffering from postpartum depression. They were originally from the northeast part of the country but because of the husband’s work had moved south ……… where there were no immediate family members close by …….. no friends ……. a long way from home ……… alone.

1013904_351454941650288_180590175_nI can’t pretend to understand the emotional trauma of having a baby. I can’t relate to staying home day after day with an unhappy newborn that can’t be placated. I can relate with one thing…….. loneliness. Trying to perform the tasks of parenthood without a network of friends or family would be daunting. Jane and I were fortunate enough to have good friends in our church family who lived nearby throughout each stage of child rearing.

While many will argue the purpose and need of the church, one very clear reason is so that we don’t go through life alone. Life is hard enough when things are going great; throw in a little agony and stress and suddenly the weight of life becomes so heavy it’s hard to breathe. When family help is unavailable, Christians should make extra concessions to step in. God made us to be social creatures. His deep desire for us is to experience affection, intimacy, and fellowship within the family of the church.

But, he also desires that we be a blessing to the stranger, to those outside of the church. Everybody needs assistance from time to time and all people need companionship. Is there a greater way to present the gospel than to be a friend to someone who desperately needs friendship?

The couple mentioned in the story above hadn’t lived in our neighborhood for long; they were somewhat aloof so we hadn’t yet developed a strong bond of friendship. Within a month or so of the incident, they packed up and moved back to their home town and we lost contact with them. Hopefully they found peace and comfort being reunited with family and friends.

You can’t overestimate the power of friendship and the strength that it adds to an individual’s faith and endurance. There is a reason why scripture says, “A cord of three is not easily broken.” You don’t have to possess a professional counseling degree to give advice or a helping hand. If you can offer a respite to an overworked mother by washing and folding a load of laundry, then you have brought a peaceful moment to one person’s day. You have given rest to one who was “weary and heavy laden.”

1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NIV

…….But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Today I raise the mug in honor of the church! Here’s to the blessing of sharing the celebrations and heartaches of life with members of the greatest and largest family on earth!

All verse quotes courtesy of biblegateway.com