Thank you for holding my arms up so I could stay in the fight

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Pr. 17:17

Western novelist Stephen Bly says that in the days of America’s Old West, there were two types of friends: runners and standers. At the first sign of trouble, the runner would bolt—abandoning you to whatever peril you were facing. But a stander would stick with you no matter the circumstances. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know which kind of friend you had until trouble came. And then it was too late—unless your friend was a stander.

Among life’s tragedies and triumphs, amidst victories and defeats, how incredibly kind is our God to give us brothers and sisters who help see us through. Today, Thursday, October 13th, is an excellent day to say thank you to such individuals who stood by when the rest of the world ran out; who strengthened limp arms to keep you in the fight…Without whom, you might not be reading this today.

It goes without saying that Christ has a sole claim on being the most faithful Friendship of all. To lay down One’s life for family is one matter, but to do so for One’s enemies feels entirely foreign and strange. But we’ve got other accounts, human, not divine, of true friendships that sustain us, steady us when we tip, prevent us from the severest falls. Like that of Johnnie Carr, whom you’ll read about shortly, or another from the Ole Testament about Aaron and Hur, not to skip past the one you’ve experienced here recently much closer to home.

Johnnie Carr

A little child, six years old, went out one autumn afternoon to play with a companion younger than himself, Johnnie Carr, the little hero whose name deserves to be written in gold. 

Presently they found that they had lost their way, and the night was coming on. The younger child, cold and hungry, began to cry, and his brave companion cheered him on, anxiously searching for the way home. At last, the night fell dark and cold; the children were lost and lay down for shelter. But the ground was wet and chilly, and the younger cried for home and his mother.

Then Johnnie Carr, only six years old, could not bear to see his playmate crying with the cold. So, he stripped off his jacket, made a bed for his companion, and placed the rest of his clothes to cover the child. Then, with only his shirt and socks, the little hero lay beside him, and their childish prayers were said. When the morning came, the anxious friends and family, who had been searching through the night, found the children lying. The younger was soon restored to health and strength, but no care could save the life of the child-hero who had given himself for his friend. – H. J. W. Buxton

Aaron and Hur

And then there’s Moses, amidst an epic battle, lingering somewhere between life and imminent death, leading the Israelites who serve Jehovah against the Amalekites who don’t. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”- Ex. 17:11-13

Your Melissa or Daniel or That Casual Friend

What about you now, reading this. Who might your modern-day Israelites be? Who fought with you amidst your epic struggle against your Amalekites, feeling as if you, like Moses, were lingering somewhere between life and imminent death? I bet you recall a time, desperately wondering within your isolated, serene, slow-motion-like world, “is there any way out? How can I possibly make it another day?”

Just then, your arms flailing from exhaustion below your side, in walked Melissa, let’s say, or Daniel, possibly your sister or that casual acquaintance or friend. At the exact moment they were needed most. If only they knew just how close you came to throwing your towel in the ring, like a prize fighter’s corner calling off a brutal beating of a fight. This rings familiar to a wise sage facing a likewise plight; it was he, the prophet Isaiah, who wrote, “Strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong; fear not! For your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.'” – Is. 35:3-4

But all that’s neither here nor there. What matters most is you’re still standing, striving, far surpassing mere survival; you’re now learning to thrive. And although you may be bloodied and battle-hardened, scarred, and never the same, aren’t you grateful to be experiencing these far better days?

So my word for you today, act on it quickly before it slips by, is to call your Melissa, Daniel, your sister, or that casual acquaintance who’s now your closest of friends to simply say thank you…Thank you for standing, not running, and for holding my arms up so I could stay in the fight. 


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