I’ve been thinking much lately about the gift of friendship and God’s purposes in it. Community. Accountability. Encouragement. I’ve been thinking about David and Jonathon. Paul and Timothy. Ridley and Latimer. Inevitably, thinking on friendship will lead to reminiscence and, at least for me, reminiscence will lead to sadness and even regret. We reminisce about that which is no longer.
But then I remembered this poem — the first poem I ever memorized — by Bill the bard.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
It’s amazing what can be wrought in our lives by such friends.
So then I think of Abraham, “the friend of God,” who undoubtedly left behind friends when he was called by God to a disposition of faith and to embark on a journey to a land which God had not yet identified. Had I been called to sacrifice my son as Abraham was called, my journey up the mountain would be filled with regret at all that I did wrong as a father. Could it be that the thought of friendship with God was enough to restore the losses and end the sorrows? James 2:23