The Arrow and the Song

In the midst of Job’s suffering he lamented “anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14). If anyone knew the sting of abandonment from surprisingly-neglectful friends, Job did. You might know how that feels too.

The poet Henry Wordsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Arrow and the Song” captures the power and beauty of time-tested friendships:

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

There are indeed no shortcuts to old friendships. And some friends pick up exactly where they left off no matter how long it’s been.

Sometimes we lose our song. It’s our real friends who help us remember the melody. If you have a friend like that, be thankful. As Solomon says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). These are the kind of friends that stick.

When I was young, I remember hearing someone say that if you have five true friends in your lifetime you are blessed. Back then I thought that was a remarkably low number. I had a lot more friends than that, I thought. But quickly approaching fifty years of age, I can now count my truest of friends on one hand.

These are five great reasons to indeed be grateful. I’d imagine you can relate. Let’s be the kind of friend we hope for and give thanks for the friends we’ve been blessed with.