Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine is come in his journey and I have nothing to set before him?
It was 2:00 in the morning. My wife and I had settled down to sleep several hours prior. But for whatever reason, I woke up at 1:30 that morning and could not get back to sleep. I got up to get a drink of water. Next, I tried praying then reading my Bible, lastly counting hockey pucks, (I’m a hockey goalie). Nothing was working!
At 2:30 am my phone rang. The voice on the other end sounded distressed. It was Dee Wells, wife of Brother Dennis Wells. The Wells were one of our missionary couples serving God in the highland bush country of Papua New Guinea. Dee proceeded to explain the need for urgent prayer. While traveling back from town with supplies in his jeep, a gang of tribesmen called Rascals forced Dennis to stop by creating a road block. They then proceeded to tear through his supplies. Angry that they didn’t find what they were looking for, they hurled the engine he was bringing home at him, injuring his back. They continued to attack him by throwing an audio speaker at his head.
Bleeding severely, Dennis was found and rescued by tribal friends and an Australian doctor. Even though I was many time zones away from my friend Dennis and could not be physically at his side, I was glad that the Lord had awakened me and readied me to be a prayer helper and support in this time of need. I was reminded of the passage in Luke 11 that details the story of the “midnight friend”. I was reminded of the times in my life when I had to reach out to someone in the wee hours of the morning because I had a need. I was also reminded how thankful I was that those to whom I had beckoned were willing and able to help me.
Suddenly, another thought hit me. The need that Dennis had in those early hours was no more important than the need of a church family who called me at 4:30 in the afternoon. They were desperate like Dennis was desperate. They needed a friend, just like he did. They too, needed and wanted someone to pray about their situation. Much like the man in Luke 11, they were in search of a solution to their problem.
The lesson I learned from tossing and turning with insomnia was this, “midnight” can strike at 2:00 in the wee hours, or at 10:00 in the morning. Friends are needed for those who are hurting, regardless the hour of day. Our world is filled with hurting people whose hearts are breaking. Unfortunately, many of them never call or text. They suffer privately. For whatever reason, they are afraid to reach out to a neighbor. Maybe they are convinced that their problem isn’t really that important to others. Maybe they’ve reached out to people in the past, only to be ignored or worse yet, belittled. Maybe they don’t want to be a bother or an inconvenience. In their minds, there is no help coming and they feel terribly alone.
In 2016, let’s be mindful that there may be someone very near to us who is living in the midnight hour, regardless of the time of day. Let’s not overlook their subtle cries for help, and if they don’t cry, let’s be mindful of the Spirit as he reveals their hurts to us. Let’s also remember that there will come times in each of our lives when we are going to need a midnight friend.