I was 17. Sitting beneath the sun’s warm rays on the edge of the half pipe at the skate park, my buddies and I talked about everything from cars to our girlfriends. We had good company and our senior year of high school ahead of us. Life was good.
Then I received the text, a text I will never forget. At first I thought it was a joke or a mistake. I thought that perhaps someone had reached the wrong number or that maybe someone was making a big deal out of nothing, which often happened in high school, right? The text read, “I don’t even know what to say. I know we can make it through this. I’m praying for all of you.”
Instantly I called my best friend to sort through the mess. Although I’d been attending a boarding school in Montana, I was actually from Salt Lake City and the news had come from there. If I could count on anyone, it was my best friend of five years.
The voice on the other line was strange to me, recognizable, but different. Instead of sounding like my joyful best friend, it sounded like someone who had lived a painful life. There had been an accident. Our very good friend, an exchange student from Korea, had drowned.
He didn’t drown in the center of a lake, and he wasn’t pulled under by a rushing current. He was merely a few feet from the shore at a local dam. No one came when he had called for help. Always a jokester, no one took his pleas seriously.
Where Is God?
One question echoed in my head throughout the next weeks, which turned into months. “Where is God? Why would he let this happen? Does he care? Does he see the tears that we are crying? And does he know the loneliness that we feel?”
I returned home for the funeral. Upon arrival, I stoically sat down beside a friend’s father, for I had no more tears left to cry. We bowed our heads for the closing prayer and then he did a simple gesture which meant so much, he put his arm around me. Instantly, I realized something.
God had been there all along. God was there in the comfort of a friend, in the hug of a former teacher, or in the quiet 4 a.m. talks with friends whom I’d nearly completely lost contact with.
Although this happened several years ago, I’m still best friends with the person mentioned in this story. We share an unspeakable bond. Although we now live in different places and occasionally go weeks without speaking, this bond will never leave us.
How God Speaks
Sometimes God speaks through burning bushes. Sometimes God is in the thundering wind. And sometimes he speaks in a still, small voice. But sometimes, his comfort is felt in the long embrace of a weeping friend, one of the only other people who feels your pain.
Chandler Jordana writes from Utah.
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