This trek away from genuine friendships has left us trying to walk our spiritual journey without anyone by our side. In return we feel lonely, get depressed, are easily discouraged, and constantly want to give up. This is especially the case when we are in the midst of trials. Without a friend to come by our side we are left to struggle through the valley all by ourselves.
As I once again reflect on July 27, 2013 I am thankful for "real friends." In the midst of some of the deepest valleys of trial that I had ever faced these friends came alongside me and encouraged me in some amazing ways. Even their simple texts with Bible verses during the week leading up to the funeral were instruments of grace. Recently one of those friends sent me an email where he copied for me a page from his devotional journal that he wrote on the day of the accident on July 27, 2013. In his email to me he wrote and said "I though I would share it with you, because the prayer I prayed concerning this tragedy came true!"
The email was such a blessing to me I asked him if I could share it on our blog. Here's what my friend Aaron Berry wrote in his devotional journal on the day of the tragic bus accident that took the lives of four people including my brother, sister-in-law, and unborn baby girl.
Devotional Journal Entry for July 27, 2013
“I begin this journal with a heavy heart. Today, at 4:15pm, Chad and Courtney Phelps were taken to Heaven after a tragic bus wreck. My mind can’t seem to comprehend the reality of it, or truly understand the level of grief that Caleb and his family are going through. Without God, such events would be hopeless. Yet, God brings good out of sorrow. He brings comfort to the discouraged.
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’ (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
Yes, the pain is real, and we feel ‘burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life’ (2 Cor. 1:8), but just as our pain is real, God is real. God has ‘delivered us from so great a death and does deliver us’ (v. 10). God does not promise to deliver us from pain; He promises to deliver us from defeat. No pain can defeat the Christian. We are ‘more than conquerors through Him who loved us’ (Rom. 8:37). God has given us the power to take our trials and bring them into subjection. The very things that should destroy the Christian make the Christian stronger. Chad and Courtney are experiencing unspeakable joy right now. The ultimate enemy, death, has been swallowed up in victory. For these two saints, death has lost its sting. For those who are grieving, this trial will strengthen them. Unbelievers will see Christians’ joyful response to death and be saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It is not death to die!”
You are good, no matter what. This event did not catch you by surprise, and it was permitted by you to bring glory to your Gospel. Declare your name through this. Display your power and love in the lives of the family and the church. You have already defeated death and it is no longer a terror to us. Allow the emotional scars to heal. I pray that you would not allow any roots of bitterness to spring up and defile many. Allow this event to cause us all to make the most of the hours and days you have mercifully given to us. Help me look on things above and not on things on the earth. My life is so short, God. Please give me the zeal to spend it all for you. Amen.”
-- Aaron Berry
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12
I wonder if today God is working in your life to be the kind of friend to someone else that Aaron has been to me? C.S. Lewis once said that friends are just people that are traveling in the same direction, have the same goals, and encourage each other to attain those goals. Can I encourage you to reach out to some other Christian traveling on the same journey of sanctification you are and be a friend to him or her? Maybe today your friendship can be instrument of God's grace in someone else's life.
Posted by Caleb