In sickness and in health. We are accustomed to hearing these words at weddings when the bride and groom look into each other’s eyes and profess their undying love before God, a minister and witnesses. However, these words came glaring at me this past month as a close friend went into the hospital for a surgery that should have taken a three -day hospital stay, but was met with unforeseen complications that led to ventilators and intensive care units and a stay of over two weeks. During her crisis, I began to think about what she meant to me. I began to think about her presence at our ministry meetings and how much she adds to our fellowship and our discussions. Her bubbly personality and her frank honesty sometimes cause me to ponder on her words for weeks after our meetings. I thought about our many conversations when I need another point of view – she gently reminds me of God’s words and helps me to refocus. I realized that through her medical crisis, she is more to me than just a sister in Christ, she is my friend - in sickness and in health.
I watched how the other women in our ministry reacted to her situation and bombarded God’s throne on her behalf. I watched as the phone never stopped ringing in anticipation for the latest word or development in her prognosis. I watched the Lord as He tested our love for one another – and I watched us grow a little more in His grace. I felt sorry for her husband as he not only had to deal with their small child and the constant trips to the hospital, but he had to deal with us! We called and we called and we called and we went to the hospital at every opportune time. I admit, we were probably a little worrisome. But she was more than just our sister – she was our friend!
I watched as the Lord answered our prayers, pulled her out of the woods, and is restoring her health daily.
I’ve learned over the years that friendship is sacred. The best friends that I have in my life are not those that I see all the time – they are not those that I even talk to on a constant basis – but they are, in fact, those relationships that have stood the test of time – at all times. Those sacred friendships are with those who can disagree with you, but respect you for your opinion even if it doesn’t make sense to them. A sacred friendship is one in which you are told when you are wrong because the other person cares enough about you not to see you live in error. A sacred friendship is one in which you can be yourself, with all of your faults and idiosyncrasies and not be made to feel as if you have to be perfect to be accepted – but at the same time your friend will help you strive to be better. A true, sacred friendship is one in which you are loved at all times – in sickness and in health.
A true, sacred friendship can only be accomplished with an encounter with the friend of all friends – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is there as our friend and our Savior – let us allow Him to transform our earthly relationships so that we can move from superficial relationships to friendships based on the model that He has given us. We know that we have sisters in Christ – but let’s move from being sisters to being friends!