A friend for troubled times

 A half-century ago, in the 1960’s, America went through similar times of upheaval and unrest to what we are experiencing in 2020. Rioting brought destruction to our cities. The Vietnam war split the country down the middle. Several national figures were assassinated – the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King among them. The Cold War with the threat of nuclear bombs kept people on edge. It helps me to hope when I recall those terrible years that were so dark. Morning broke over the nation after that long night. Dawn will come again.

In the worst of it, Simon and Garfunkel gave us the song –  
Bridge Over Troubled Water.”  Remember it?
When you’re weary, feeling small;
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.
I’m on your side – When times get rough,
And friends just can’t be found;
Like a bridge over troubled water,
I will lay me down. – Paul Simon, copyright, 1969

I was 14 when that song was first popular. I am just about 65 now and it still resonates with me.  I am so grateful for friends who are part of my journey, for those who stand alongside me. A friend can be a bridge over troubled water!   Are you keeping close to friends these days, even with the limits of association that COVID brought? Are you connecting, calling, texting, emailing, Facetiming, Zooming?  A signature strength of Christ’s church are those relationships that become vital to us. The people that encourage us, that share life and ministry with us, become ‘closer than a brother.’

Let’s not forget that when no song can settle our emotions, when our troubles are not calmed by the company of friends, there is a Friend Whose name is Jesus!  He is not too busy, is able to understand, offers to love us even when we are in troubled water. Peter, a man who knew about difficult times, reminds us to “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NKJV)

Our fears, our sins and our successes, our glorious dreams and crushed hopes – everything that weighs heavily on our shoulders – we can share with Jesus who is not only Lord but Friend!  “Weighed down by concern, troubled by life? Throw it on the Lord! He is ready to care for you.”  If you are anxious, if your life has known hardship, please know that you are quite normal!  Jesus told us that “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.”  And, He goes on to encourage – “But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33, The Message)  

People will disappoint and frustrate you. Disasters will come – pandemic, death, economic disaster, storms, floods, and social unrest – often defying our human abilities to sort it out or to make sense of it all. His invitation stands. He is there, ready to receive us. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV)  In a sense, He is saying, “Let ME be your bridge over troubled water!”

Get alone with Jesus today.
Your prayer does not have to be beautiful, long, or eloquent.
You may just sit and cry. He understands.
You may find yourself without words. He’ll listen to your heart.
You may spill over with frustration. He won’t judge.
You may be so numb as to feel nothing at all but He’s there, regardless.

Before you venture into your daily tasks, take some time to think deeply on these words from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. They are inspired, full of hope. I have chosen to use a modern paraphrase of the Scripture to help make the content accessible to us. Here is a word from the Word.
“Oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and
set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe,
everything from galaxies to governments,
no name and no power exempt from his rule.
And not just for the time being, but forever.

He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.
At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.
The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world;
the world is peripheral to the church.

The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts,
by which he fills everything with his presence.”
(Ephesians 1:19-23, The Message)


Draw me close to You, never let me go.
I lay it all down again
to hear You say that I’m Your friend.
You are my desire, no one else will do,
’cause nothing else could take Your place;
to feel the warmth of Your embrace,
help me find the way;
bring me back to You.

You’re all I want!
You’re all I’ve ever needed!
You’re all I want!
Help me know You are near.

Kelly Carpenter © 1994 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing

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