I've waited till now to blog this. Readers who followed my postings since February last year would recall I wrote about a friend AL who was struck with a deadly malignancy in his brain that medical opinions gave a very poor prognosis of 6-14 months. It was his tennis buddies who noticed his slowed return of the balls and urged him to seek medical attention. He did and discovered a large tumor that was removed in late February. Only around mid March did AL revealed to me that he might by dying. Our common friends were alarmed and fortunately by then we had established a network with email contacts. AL is a Catholic and while the rest of his friends here in Malaysia are mainly Protestants (Methodists) we shared the same God to whom we lifted our prayers to urge God to spare AL. Most importantly we believe in spite of the odds God is able to heal.
Friendship's defining moments are not in good times when laughters are shared. It is defined when there is a real need to listen, care, help and pray. I wasn't put to test out my friendship until this moment when I felt AL's vulnerability could well be mine, and in his shoes I would appreciate true friends to rally to my side to give me spiritual and emotional support. Without being asked to. That I believe separates ordinary friends from real friends. In June, with another friend and also fellow classmate, TCS, we flew to Auckland to offer our encouragement. It was then that I realized money cannot buy friendship and that it would be well spent on a journey just to visit him. Incidentally we have not seen each other for over 30 years but the bond was as strong as the day we left school.
I must mention another friend made in less than 2 years but no less gracious than TCS and I. PL felt he could make a difference to his new friend. We are after all contemporaries so we understand how sickness can take away earthly friendship in the blink of an eye. PL valued knowing AL so the three of us drop in at AL's house unsure if he was able to receive us. I thank God that although AL lost transient memories and was slow in articulating his replies he was not incapacitated as I feared. Our friendship rekindled over that few days plus the many fervent prayers we and other friends and Christians around the world encouraged AL to overcome his illness and not yield to hopelessness but believe that he would eventually be healed.
The test of his healing is in his responses to our emails sent or copied to him. AL stopped replying our emails for over 10 months. Each time we asked of his condition we were stone walled and have to depend on another friend staying in Auckland to report his condition. He told us AL would only respond after his chemotherapy sessions end in November last year. We waited and waited.
The last email to me in June last year before he went into 'hiding' carried the following remarks,
It is way beyond my present abilities to convey to you how the good Lord had been in rebuilding the 'lost' brain which, in His incomparable wisdom, better be surgically removed than left in my head and devour me in an uncontrolled manner. Thanks to Him that my family and I have been 'redirected' by so much love, grace, forgiveness, joy, happiness, peace.........so many qualities we all usually talk so freely and yet not so readily displayed and also not well understood either. With some loss of the grey matter.......I can testify that in so many 'issues' the good Lord had actually showed how He was/is in-charge and all we had to do is to believe and to trust in Him! What a priceless lesson to 'exchange' for a piece of deteorating 'old meat'.
The next email came 3 days after Christmas last year. I want to share part of what he wrote me.
This is a much belated Christmas and NY greeting.....and an attempt to explain why I have yet to start my own 'easing back' into the 'free-and-easy, shoot from the hip' type of 'computer fun'.
The first 'order' is to apologise to each and everyone of what I have done and something that I have failed to do....... to you, a very special group of people who is specially 'prepared' by God, to wait by the road-side, to extend your warm hands and genorous hearts, at a very appropriate timing, to remind a 'long lost' friend that God is good and that He loves us.
Immediately my spirit soared. At that time I know AL has recovered. He has been healed. Hallelujah! Praise God for overturning the odds. After that email AL has been writing quite frequently and the main encourager to his classmates to organize the golden jubilee class reunion in 2015 that he look forward to join.
We are now asked to pray for another friend and classmate whose wife is in depression. I believe in the power of friendship, prayer and faith again, that God will heal again because He loves us and will hear from Heaven our prayers.