Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 4, 2007


Caring friends makes a difference when trouble comes


      Nearly four years have passed since I almost died in an Opelika hospital. My doctor posted a “No Visitors” sign on my door for several days. Beside it was a sign-up pad so friends could let me know they had come by.

          Many friends signed that pad, so many that I realized they must have heard I was dying. It would take that to get some of them away from their busy work.

          The concern of so many friends touched me deeply. When the bottom falls out of your life, caring friends can make a powerful difference in your attitude about everything.

          When the crisis had passed, and I was able to go home, I planned to drop a note of thanks to everyone who had visited me in the hospital. However, that never happened.

          Pain and depression robbed me of that desire to express gratitude. Instead I became focused on myself, my misery, and my plight in not recovering in a timely manner.

          Eventually I came to regret that period of self-centeredness when “it was all about me.” And again a thankful spirit swelled within me. My wife, my family, and many friends, had gently led me out of the slough of depression so I could see things clearly again.

          There are times when life is terribly overwhelming. In those times the concern of our friends may be the difference in our survival. Without the love of friends most of us would never make it through life’s trials.

          While visiting with a college teacher recently I saw a sign behind his desk that expressed how most of us feel at times: “O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.” Anyone who has lived awhile can identify with that statement.

          Many people have posted that saying somewhere in home or office. Admiral Hyman Rickover gave a plaque with those words on it to the commanding officer of each new Polaris submarine. Obviously it has very special meaning to the men and women who serve on submarines. Yet its meaning is universal.

          The longer I live the more grateful I am for the caring of my friends, even casual acquaintances. How prayer works is a mystery yet many of us believe prayer makes a difference.

          When the tornadoes swept over Alabama this week the people who were devastated prayed. Hearing of the disaster, death and destruction, many others prayed for those in harm’s way.

          Some cynics say that prayer is psychological and makes no difference. Perhaps for them that is so. All I know is that it cheers my soul to know that my friends are praying for me when I am in trouble. I would not want to live another hour without praying friends.

          Sometimes I come across prayers that I wish I had written. One of those is a prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson that is worth praying every day. It expresses some of the thoughts that today stir my heart:

          “Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies. Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors. If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.”

          Perhaps today is a good day to let our caring friends know how much we care. + + + +