In our lives, we all experience times similar to Frodo,when we are completely worn out from the circumstances of life. Our faith is shaky, our optimism gone and our vision skewed. It's in those times that we really need a Sam. Someone who will come alongside us, pick us up, speak encouraging words, and have the optimism and faith that we are lacking. Someone who says to us; "I can carry you!".
Many years ago I went through a difficult time and found this out in a very personal way. Within a two week period my father suddenly died, Tom was laid off his job and I herniated a disk in my lower back making any movement excruciatingly painful. I was in emotional loss and physical pain, and that was more than I could handle. I began to have panic attacks and incredible anxiety. I couldn't sleep at night and that only heightened the intensity of everything else. I went from being a strong, independent, capable person, to being a weak, needy and empty one, within a couple short weeks.
I had many friends come over, stare at me on the couch, shake their heads and leave. I didn't hear anymore from them. I was not the same person, and they didn't know how to relate to me in my present state.
I had some friends like those of Job. Friends that tried to analyze my circumstances and counsel me out of it. They likewise, after a few attempts to fix me, left and I no longer heard from them either.
And finally, the friends who thought, if they ignored me and the state I was in, maybe when I got out of it, we could just pick up where we left off like nothing happened.
I was seeing friendships "drop like flies" during that period of my life. I saw just how shallow most of what we call relationships are. If I hadn't been so depressed at that time anyway, the truth of that realization alone would of been enough to push me into it!
The Apostle Paul mentions the desertions of some of his friends when he needed them on a number of occasions. Jesus Himself experienced it when all the disciples ran away from him at his arrest and hid themselves. Sometimes we will have only God Himself to see us through difficult days. However, I believe that although we will have some of those times, most of our difficult seasons in life are meant to be shared with each other.
We're not made for solo journeys. We are created for relationship. We are not called to our own islands of experience. We need each other in our experiences. We are called to be a family. A healthy, mutually interactive and supportive family where we "seek to the welfare" of each other above ourselves. That costs us something.
Tomorrow I'll share more about the "Sam's" that God gave to me personally during that difficult time in my life. What they taught me about relationship and the importance of learning what God intends for us to have with each other in the family of God.