How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? – I Thessalonians 3:8
Jackie Robinson was in real distress. He had recently become the first African-American to play Major League Baseball, and things were not going well. He faced hostility from the opposing team. He faced hostility from the fans. He even faced resentment and suspicion from his own teammates. Then came the day when things got worse. While playing 2nd base, Jackie committed an error. Immediately the stadium erupted with taunting and derision.
Then, something wonderful happened. The legendary shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, trotted over and put his arm around Jackie’s shoulder. The taunting stopped. It stopped because, with that simple gesture, Reese was signaling a message to the entire stadium. The message was, “Jackie Robinson is my teammate, and Jackie Robinson is my friend.” Robinson, of course, went on to be a Hall of Famer. But he never forgot what Pee Wee’s act of friendship had done. That arm around his shoulder, Robinson later said, had saved his career.
The Advent season is a superb time to stop for a moment and consider how the Lord has blessed you through friendship. Think about the friend who gave you an encouraging word just when you needed it, and the friend who gave you an example of courage for you to follow. Think about the friend whose need gave you what you really needed – an opportunity to serve. Think about the friend who was patient with you when you were not being very loveable, and the friend who makes you laugh. Think about the friend who is quietly praying for you, and the friend whose very life reminds you that you are not the only one who carries burdens in this broken world. Think about the friend who has demonstrated what it means to forgive, and the friend who so often helps you remember all the things you have to be thankful for.
But even if you’re in a moment in your life when you feel isolated, as if an entire stadium of people has turned its back, never forget the Best Friend you have. Never forget the One who died and rose to claim you as his own. Jesus stands beside you with his arm around your shoulder. And by your side he is going to stay.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my dearest Friend. Thank you for blessing me in so many ways. And thank you for standing by my side. Amen.