None of us is really equipped to deal with the death of loved ones. That’s why this day in history, 14 years ago, was so hard for millions. It was the death that affected 52 million of us. I’m not talking about Philip Kapleau, the American educator who died May 6, 2004 at the age of 92. I’m not talking about Barney Kessel, the American composer who died May 6, 2004 at the age of 81. And I’m not talking about Virginia Capers, the American actress who died May 6, 2004 at the age of 79. No, I’m talking about the death of Friends, the NBC sitcom that ended on May 6, 2004 at the age of eleven.
There were 52.46 million viewers who made this the fourth most watched finale in television history. For eleven years, millions followed the antics of Jennifer Anniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LaBlanc. Just the title of the series was enough to pull us in. Everyone loves to have friends. But there is bad news when it comes to friends. The March 18 edition of Time included a survey that asked, “How many close friends do you have?” The most common answer was “None.” Psychology Today says we can handle up to 150 friends at one time. But David Oragui, author of Build a Better Life, claims the optimum number is three. How many friends do you have? (Acquaintances don’t count!) By “friend,” I mean someone who knows your darkest secrets, has walked with you through life’s deepest valleys, and who stands with you, not because you’re right, but because you’re wrong.
The Bible tells of a man who “gave his life for his friends.” His name was Jesus. I could never say it as well as Joseph Scriven, who wrote these words in 1855. What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer! Are we weak and heavy-laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there. I remember when Friends signed off. But I have a Friend who will never sign off. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Whether you have 150 friends or just three, make sure you have the Friend who never fails. Say it with me! What a friend we have in Jesus!