You don’t need to be a fan of Rugby League to appreciate and be inspired by the tremendous friendship between Kevin Sinfield and his former Leeds Rhinos team-mate Rob Burrow. When Rob Burrow was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in late 2019, Kevin stuck by his friend and was inspired to do whatever he could to raise money for MND charities. In 2020 he ran seven marathons in seven days and in 2021 he completed a run of 101 miles in 24 hours. Last year he completed an Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge when he ran seven back to back ultra-marathons (an ultra marathon being a run longer than the standard marathon length). His latest triumph was on Sunday 14th May 2023 when he completed the first inaugural Rob Burrow’s Leeds Marathon when he actually pushed Rob the 26.2 miles in a specially adapted wheelchair, lifting him out of the chair as they finally crossed the finish line together. So far Kevin Sinfield has raised well over £8 million for charity, which is not only a remarkable story about good coming out of adversity, but a wonderful celebration of their friendship.
The Bible has a lot to say about ‘running the race’ and ‘going the extra mile’, just as it does about friendship, with such examples as those of David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi whose love, compassion and loyalty bound them together through ‘thick and thin’ as good friends regardless of what life and dire circumstances had brought them. The Christian will be aware that this was modelled in Jesus’ own life and taught by him when he told his disciples that they and all who put their faith in him could be his friends if they did what he commanded – and what was it that he commanded? It was that they should ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15.12) in other words selflessly, sacrificially and completely, often putting the needs of the other person first, and before themselves. This was ultimately demonstrated by Jesus himself when he died upon the cross.
There is so much sadness and suffering in the world that it often weighs us down and depresses us but let us also lift up our heads and be inspired by the good examples of love and friendship that we see and be inspired to cultivate such qualities and friendships in our own life and the people we meet.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17.17